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A WINDOW IN 
FLEET STREET 



Life should he a great adventure. 

(Old Saying.) 

The Heart, the Soul, the Mind, they are the 
great adventurers. 

(New Saying.) 

So : " Come," said Dr. Johnson, " let us 
take a walk down Fleet Street." 




By H*. J. Roleris. 



The Window in Fleet Street 



A WINDOW IN 
FLEET STREET 

(I'll 

BY JAMES MILNE 



LONDON 
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W. 



FIRST EDITION . . . 1931 



Dedication : To Tou, my dear Amy 



CHAPTERS AND THEIR CONTENTS 



rxoi 



I. A STREET OF MANY WAYS . . i 

The very human, still Bohemian Eighteen-Nineties, when 
the last of the writing Victorians were out for a life adven- 
turous, and found it between the romance of the ages and the 
wonders of the future. 

II. THE SOUTHERN ROAD . . 15 

Which, said mocking Dr. Johnson, is the noblest prospect a 
Scotsman can behold ; with halts and experiences by the way, 
and a " close-up " of the famous Maybrick Case and its 
tragic heroine. 

III. THE DREAM AND THE BUSINESS . 31 

Newly divulged stories about Benjamin Disraelis death, 
his historic Suez Canal deal and the Parnell Commission ; 
with their cross-lights on the natural history of that strange, 
uncanny creature, " The Scoop" 

IV. WHAT EVERYBODY DOESN'T KNOW . 43 

The news that lies behind the news, circulating silently, 
as do tidings in the Arabian Desert ; and that leads to the 
love story of Charles Stewart Parnell and " Kitty " O'Sbea, 
and to austere Cardinal Manning. 

vii 



CHAPTERS AND THEIR CONTENTS 

FAOt 

V. HERALDS OF A NEW WORLD . . 56 

When modern life was young and English political elections 
were adventures ; and when Madame Blavatsky and Annie 
Besant were, with their Mahatmas, striking the trail of the 
miracle we call " Wireless." 

VI. How THE HOME FIRES BURN . . 70 

A plain and coloured contrast between what was and what 
is, with in-takes about Oscar Wilde 9 s trial, the tragic death 
of Lionel Johnson, that one-time London notoriety, Jane 
Cakebread, and Phil May, the artist. 

VII. THE IMMORTAL SALVATIONIST . . 84 

Some particular conversations, offering fresh, lively anecdot- 
age, with General William Booth, whose soul goes marching 
on in the army of Democratic Christianity which he dreamt 
and created, inspired by his wife, Catherine Booth. 



VIII. MILESTONES AND THEIR MEANING . 95 

Such as the Victorian crinoline and its constant threat 
to return, or the breach-of -promise case and its decline ; 
also weightier affairs that bring in personages like Henry 
Labouchere and Cecil Rhodes. 

IX. MEET NOTABLE AMERICANS 1 . . 1 1 1 

George W . Smalley, a pioneer ambassador of Transatlantic 
news; Mark Twain, humorist to the world, grave man 
really ; John Hay and stories of Lincoln, whom he knew 
well ; George Haven Putnam and Henry White. 

viii 



CHAPTERS AND THEIR CONTENTS 

FACE 

X. THE MAN BEHIND THE VEIL . . 126 

Real human nature hidden under the trappings of public 
life ; here caught in small-talk of Joseph Chamberlain as 
" Joe," the Premier Earl of Rosebery as Scotland's darling 
and Earl Balfour as himself. 

XL GLADSTONE THE GREAT . . .141 

Seeing and hearing the " Grand Old Man " in public and 
in private, thus getting a near portrait of his majestic, domi- 
nating personality ; and being at Hawarden when he lay 
dying, the heroic " Happy Warrior." 

XII. "FATHERS" OF THE HOUSE . . 155 

Personal memories by them of English Parliamentary life, 
and its changes, in our own time; and descriptions of 
Brougham, Palmerston, Peel, Melbourne, Canning, Cobden, 
O'Connell, Disraeli, Gladstone, Parnell and other famous 
statesmen. 

XIII. SOME MEN OF LETTERS . 173 

Oliver WendellHolmes " at home " with his " Autocrat " ; 
William Morris, poet and Socialist, " at home " at his Kelms- 
cott Press ; and Charles Dickens, novelist and man, " at 
home " in the memory of his publisher. 

XIV. MY QUEEN VICTORIA . . .189 

The Lady of Balmoral where she " noddit to me" and was 
just womanly ; and the Royal Sovereign who stood for the 
rise of the British Empire and stamped her name upon an age 

of the world's history. 


IX 



CHAPTERS AND THEIR CONTENTS 

PAOK 

XV. A VICTORIAN PEEP-SHOW . . 206 

Coleridge and "Old Fang" ; Dean Stanley, Charles 
Spurgeon and other divines ; Holman Hunt and " Israel a 
Nation " ; Cardinal Vaughan and world peace ; Henry 
Russell and " Cheer 9 Boys, Cheer " / and Lord Randolph 
Churchill and " Labour." 

XVI. HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP . 220 

Arctic and Pacific story-tellers ; pawky Piper Findlater, 
V.C. ; tragic Sir Hector Macdonald ; bold Sir Ernest 
Shackle ton ; Piking Dr. Nansen ; mandarinish Li Hung 
Chang, and the kidnapping of Sun Tat Sen in London Town. 

XVII. THE GRAND EDWARDIAN . . 237 

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the ruler of English aristo- 
cratic society ; and Edward VII, the Sovereign who linked 
the august queenship of Victoria with the democratic kingship 
of George V. 

XVIII. THOMAS HARDY AT HOME. . 253 

The famous English novelist in his native Wessex, a homely, 
simple, shy genius ; and a striking conversation there, about 
ancient Stonehenge, where his Tess and Angel Clare spent 
their last hours together. 

XIX. OLD FAMILIAR FACES . . .268 

The gentle art of after-dinner and public speaking ; taking 
us to " T.P.," Mr. Augustine Birrell, Mr. Bernard Shaw, 
Mr. G. K. Chesterton, Sir James Barrie, Chauncey Depew, 
" Bob " Ingersoll and President Wilson. 



CHAPTERS AND THEIR CONTENTS 

PACK 

XX. EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS . .287 

Old masters, like Delane of " The Times " and Russel of 
" The Scotsman " ; foreword to intimate portraits of newer 
masters, Alfred Fletcher, Henry Massingham, or Robertson 
Nicoll ; all showing editorship a very " human document" 

XXL TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW . . 305 

The New Fleet Street of a new age, faint, perhaps, but 
pursuing ; a stray light on where Barrie heard the wind that 
called Mary Rose to her Island ; and other revealings and 
gleanings of our Pilgrim Way. 

PEOPLE IN THE BOOK . . . . 317 



PORTRAITS AND PICTURES 

PAOE 

T be " G.OJlf.," by Harry Furniss 102 

Fridtjof Nansen, the Arctic Explorer 106 

Mark Twain, the American Writer 115 

Sir John Mowbray, a " Fatter of the House " . . . 161 

Charles Dickens in bis Prime 184 

Queen Victoria and John Brown 195 

Li Hung Chang's Chinese Signature 228 

Sun Tat Sen's Autograph in English and Chinese . . . 233 
Edward Clodd's Straff ord House at Aldeburgh . . .265 
Mr . Bernard Shaw, a Smiling Philosopher .... 273 
Mr. G. K. Chesterton of the Johnsonian Air . . . 275 
" G.5.S.," in Autograph, on How he Writes . . .279 
The New Fleet Street of To-day, by F. L. Bussell. . . 293 
" Northcliffe " a t St. Dunstan's, Fleet Street . . .307 



XIV 




I. A STREET OF MANY WAYS 

The very human, still Bohemian Eighteen-Nineties, 
when the last of the writing Victorians were out for a life 
adventurous, and found it between the romance of the 
ages and the wonders of the future. 

ILEET STREET in the 'Nineties of last cen- 
tury was a fine adventure for a young 
Scotsman from the Highland side of the 
Grampians, trying his luck in London 
Town. 

It still had sights and echoes of the time when 
Samuel Johnson might well have said to James 
Boswell, " Come, let us take a walk down Fleet 
Street." But you will not find the command in the 
famous " Life/ 1 because it was invented by George 
Augustus Sala as a motto for the old, dead magazine, 
" Temple Bar." Also the trumpets of a new age, 
loud and bustling, were at the gates of Fleet Street, 
shaking them up, as Temple Bar at one end, and 
King Lud at the other end, had not only been shaken 
up but shaken out of their ancient places. 

There were thus two Fleet Streets for adventure : 



A STREET OF MANY WAYS 

one with the glamour of old things and old faces, 
a mental retrospect and refreshment ; the other 
with the swing of modern minds and swift advances, 
a salute to enterprise, personal as well as general. 
The lovely thing, in a street having two doors, was 
that you could take either, as opportunity persuaded 
or impelled, and never, like the spiritual wanderer 
in Omar Khayym, feel you came out by the same 
one as you went in. 

It was an easy affair to cross this newspaper 
Rubicon when the inviting clank of horses' feet was 
its prevalent and loudest noise. You just launched 
into the traffic, sure there was some safe way 
through the " growlers," the hansoms, the private 
carriages, the buses, the lorries and the carts. You 
knew you would, like Swinburne's " weariest river," 
wind somewhere safe to whatever sea you sought, 
whereas nowadays you take your life in your hand 
and say, with a witty American Ambassador, " Only 
a place for the quick or the dead 1 " 

You could hear the bells of Wren's St. Bride's 
Church when they rang, and people had time, and 
took it, to stop and listen to them. Even the 
clank of the great presses, printing off the daily 
newspapers, had an anthem note, because they did 
not go so fast, and there were not so many of them 
needed for smaller circulations. Fleet Street only 

2 



OLD WAR CORRESPONDENTS 

invaded the country by passenger train or post, and, 
as yet, had no thought of competing with local 
papers within their own areas. " Our London 
Correspondent," with his " special wire," was the 
personal link between town and country, and he 
was to be read with proper awe, as well as for his 
information. 

War correspondents were still figures of romance, 
and one of my own disappointments was that, 
coming too late, I never saw a great compatriot, 
Archibald Forbes. Somehow he had seemed to 
me the chevalier, without fear or reproach, of the 
order, and he could write like blazes, as you will 
discover for yourself if you can lay hands on a little 
volume, bound in red cloth, which contained his 
Plevna and other war dispatches. Here was a man 
who knew both the sword and the pen and who 
solved the old familiar debating-society question 
by mingling their mightiness. 

Other men who had campaigned with him still 
walked the Street of Adventure, and when you met 
them the scent of new battles seemed to be in their 
nostrils. There was Bennet Burleigh, muscular 
and driving, who had also soldiered, or there was 
Fred Villiers, who, with his peaked Captain Kettle 
beard, and a sense of colour in his clothes, looked 
the complete war artist. Melton Prior, reddish of 
B 3 



A STREET OF MANY WAYS 

hair, shortish in stature, had sketched many wars, 
and " Charlie " Williams was just himself, large and 
rugged, amiable and combative, a good friend in a 
corner, a valiant enemy when challenged. 

It was a fine old brigade of war " Specials " that 
went clattering from Fleet Street when the bugles 
blew in some quarter of the earth, and one salutes 
their memory. Their enterprise, clad in dignity, 
well represented the note of journalism then, and 
they themselves illustrated its comradeship and 
individuality. They not only did things, but, as 
there was time and room for individuality, they did 
them in a way which was characteristic of them- 
selves and could be as little mistaken as the chroni- 
cles of the Biblical kings and prophets. Surely 
these prophets and kings were the first and greatest 
of war correspondents, so it is proper and indeed 
necessary to cite them. 

Both the newspaper day and the newspaper night 
were longer in Fleet Street in the 'Nineties than they 
are now. There was plenty to do, and it was done, 
and well done, but with less hurry and rush, though, 
by its very nature, a newspaper is a quick-moving 
creature. Always it should move with orderly 
ease, like a racehorse going well within his stride, 
or else there is trouble, and indeed this absence of 
drama, this presence of sheer ordinariness, is what 

4 




Ready, aye ready ! " Charlie " Williams, one of the fine Old 
Guard of English War Correspondents, who began with William 
Howard Russell, and included Scottish Archibald Forbes. 

5 



A STREET OF MANY WAYS 

most impresses the stranger visiting Fleet Street, 
No fuss, no noise, no nerves, and duly the presses 
down in the deeps where the Fleet River may still 
murmur, begin to growl out their sheaves of print. 

Outwardly the newspaper offices preserve the 
calm air they had " when we were very young," 
though architecturally they have changed with the 
times. A newspaper office is a serious place 
especially, of course, the editorial room and you 
can hardly make it look gay even on a Lord Mayor's 
Day. No doubt it gathers into itself the mentality 
of its calling, and when many buildings are con- 
cerned, this air is perhaps even communicated to a 
street. Nobody who knows and loves Fleet Street 
could, in any circumstances, mistake it for any 
place but itself. If it were bodily removed to the 
African Sahara it would retain its inky smell, its 
cool indifference to curiosity, and its flair for the 
latest news. 

" Jack the Ripper " had been the great sensation 
in the late Eighteen-Eighties, and among those who 
had reported him there lingered tales of his ways, 
pursuit and no capture. He left on the populace 
of East London a " gru " such as the Burke and 
Hare murders cast over Edinburgh, and in Fleet 
Street a newspaper trail. 

Nay, it was a world trail, for years afterwards, in 

6 



AN ECHO OF A TRAGEDY 

Chicago, I was taken, one night, to a Whitechapel 
Club, which the literary and artistic Bohemians had 
so christened, because it sported an atmosphere of 
the " horrible and awful," as well as a kindly 
hospitality. In particular it invited " tall stories " 
from its members, and then it shouted them down 
with a weird chorus, of which one verse ran : 

" In the days of old Rameses ; are you on ? 
They told the same thing> they told the same thing 
In the days of old Rameses, the story had paresis 
Are you on> are you on, are you on ? " 

There never had been such a sustained horror and 
mystery as " Jack the Ripper " staged in White- 
chapel, and out of the endeavour to comprehend the 
one and to solve the other, there probably sprang 
something of the keener modern liking for the 
detective story. Anyhow, " Jack " had become a 
complete and traditional villain, and for long, any 
London crime with any resemblance to his would 
cause a " scare," in head-lines anyhow. The old- 
time " penny a liner," mostly a resourceful fellow, 
and a full Bohemian, certainly never had a better 
subject for his casual labour. 

It was casual labour and its bad effects which led 
to another, different sort of spectre, that engrossed 

7 



A STREET OF MANY WAYS 

Fleet Street : the Great London Dock Strike. 
The chronicling of it was the chronicling of London 




"Hammering Away!" An impression, by Sir F. C. Gould, 
of Mr. John Burns, who was so inspiring a figure in the Great 
London Dock Strike of 1889, and is still carrying on. 

stirring uneasily, multitudinously, in its life of 
labour, as it had never stirred before. New demo- 
cratic leaders leapt into national figures, most clearly 

8 



THE DOCKER'S " TANNER'* 

Mr. John Burns, whose trumpet voice, short, blue- 
reefered figure and long-headed diplomacy did 
much to win the London docker his " tanner." 
His straw-hat, of the " boater " sort, so long out of 
fashion, and now only a little returned, was the 
oriflamme of the strike. 

It is a far day, in thought as well as in deed, 
since thousands of casual workers were marching 
westward through Fleet Street to the modest cry, 
" Give the docker his sixpence an hour." And 
yet, as Fleet Street men would later say with wonder, 
it took weeks to win the " tanner " from the hard- 
faced treasuries of London River. 

Nobody can have travelled Fleet Street, usefully 
for himself or others, without feeling how sympa- 
thetically it reacts to large public movements. It 
captures their atmosphere and colour, as well as 
their meaning in plain fact, and thus it is able to 
reflect them as they really are. True, it is a question 
of the best news and the swiftest news, but always 
the gospel of knowledge is on the wing and sinking 
into the public ear. It may be a screech, like the 
wheels of an ancient horse-bus crying for grease, 
or it may be a dead sound, like the traffic when a 
" London particular " fell on Fleet Street, only it is 
there, a message doing its work without halt, day 
or night. 

9 



A STREET OF MANY WAYS 

No doubt it was a bright young fellow on a paper 
who named the right brand of fog a " London 
particular," though we do not know him. Some- 
times it is the unknown soldier of Fleet Street who 
most deserves to be buried beside the other one in 
Westminster Abbey* He is, however, content to 
contribute his thoughts and his captions to the 
common lot and pass quickly into the eternal fog. 
A " London particular," when it still flourished 
in the 'Nineties, before the smoke nuisance was 
tackled, was not so ultimate as that, yet it was quite 
enough. 

It came, yellow and yellower, down Ludgate Hill, 
like the waves of a muddy sea, or it swam into Fleet 
Street from the Griffin end. Either way, it ate up 
what sight there had been by daylight, gas-light, 
or that then rising star, electric light. A great, 
clammy, smoky hand grasped everything, and 
stuck its fingers into your nostrils and your eyes, 
making them smart. You wheezed and coughed 
and spluttered and wondered how on earth you 
were to get home, for a glimpse through a window 
showed you a sort of " Dead March in Saul " down 
in Fleet Street. 

Fires in braziers were lit by the authorities at 
vital points of traffic, and dwindling vehicles and 
shadowy walkers steered by those glimmers and by 

10 



A REAL LONDON FOG 

walls and railings. Oh, the real " London parti- 
cular " could be as thorough as this, though you 
must not say it to a younger son and expect to be 
believed. A " stinking, kippered fog " was the 
horse-busman's name for it when he found himself 
on the pavement, and didn't know just what pave- 
ment it was. Well, the 3.15 a.m., late worker's 
train, was booked to run as usual from Ludgate 
Hill, round South London td Victoria, and you 
could grope your way to it on the chance of getting 
home some time or other. 

Why is it that a street, which is more than that 
because a special community, makes the most last- 
ing impression when it is either drab or sunshiny ? 
Probably for the same reason that one most remem- 
bers a single human face in tears or in laughter. 
Fleet Street, with the sun rising behind St. Paul's, 
has ever been a glorious greeting in the morning. 
Fleet Street, towards evening, with the westerly 
sun pouring into it like molten gold, has been a 
benison to its weary and worn people. Change is a 
chariot of many and succeeding wheels, but a per- 
sonality which gets the creative and re-creative 
warmth of the sun lives on, changing yet changeless ; 
and surely that is the Street of Adventure. 

Oliver Goldsmith would not have known it in the 
'Nineties, if he had risen from his silent grave in the 

ii 



A STREET OF MANY WAYS 

Temple, and walked along to St. Paul's Church- 
yard. He was, you see, accustomed to do that in 
life, for John Newbery, the father of the English 
Christmas book, had a little shop near St. Paul's, 
and Goldsmith wrote " Goody Two-Shoes " and 
other things for him. 

Nor would he know Fleet Street as it looks to- 
day, soaring towards the sky in the newest parts, a 
modern Jacob's Ladder for the newspaper man to 
reach the heaven of his desires. But was " Goldy," 
though only in a nursery rhyme, not expressing the 
eternal hope of every comer into Fleet Street when 
he wrote of the little folk : 

" Who from a State of Rags and Caire 
And having Shoes but half a Paire, 
Their Fortune and their Fame would fix 
And Gallop in a Coach and six." 

For Fleet Street, however it may have changed to 
the outward eye, is always the same in spirit and in 
the characteristics we associate with writing and 
printing for the people. Its mentality and its soul 
remain, this age, or that age, what they must be, 
since only thus could they go on, an elixir of our 
national life. Once in a while you meet the sign of 
it all in an unforgettable picture, staged by chance, 

12 



THREE MUSKETEERS 

as chance only stages things in a street where unrobed 
and unhooded men, and frocked but never frivolous 
women, are the instruments of light which, cen- 
turies ago, the White Friars were on one side of the 
Thames, as it bends towards St. Paul's Hill, and the 
Black Friars were on the other side. 

Dull, narrow, Whitefriars Street on an afternoon 
of yester year ; several figures come sailing down 
abreast, in eager talk : Cunninghame Grahame, 
who might have been born a Scottish Royal Stuart 
or a Spanish Conquistador ; Henry Nevinson, a 
knight-templar of heroic and far-flung causes ; and 
Louis Austin, as elegant and silken of body as of 
mind and spirit ; three of the most picturesque 
men in London, all fine writers. Dumas's Three 
Musketeers, ever so gallant and good to the eye, 
as also to the imagination ; and of course they are for 
Hanging Sword Alley and its named romance. 

It is only a small by-way of the precinct of White- 
friars, but with its sword-width of pavement and 
walls, what ancient makers of steel blades does it not 
suggest, aye, and users of them, for here a man could 
slay a rival in the window opposite, or pink him in a 
duel fought, with seconds, down below. Perhaps 
Mr. J. L. Garvin felt the lure of Hanging Sword 
Alley when he planted his editorial chair in Tudor 
Street, for there it is beside him. 

13 



A STREET OF MANY WAYS 

But our other musketeers of Fleet Street turn 
into a hole for a door, halfway along Whitefriars 
Street, on the left-hand side. It leads darkly, 
mysteriously to an editorial office, where a band of 
brothers made the " Daily Chronicle " a great paper 
and a great power in the land. It was a brave 
corner in this Inky Way, which is also an Appian 
Way, and from there, if you arc willing, we shall 
travel down the years, in hope and faith, in adven- 
ture and observation, and perhaps we may sometimes 
arrive. 



II. THE SOUTHERN ROAD 



said mocking Dr. Johnson, is the noblest 
prospect a Scotsman can behold; with halts and 
experiences by the way, and a " close-up " of the 
famous Maybrick Case and its tragic heroine. 



p--T|-^HERE is always a rosy spark to light the 

11 beginning of a life's pilgrimage, or there 

II should be, for the road itself is unsure, and 

^^ the end of it unknown. A chance, way- 

ward trifle may produce this spark and, by what 

follows, light the long trail, and that thought recalls 

one's first, remote dip into the sea of ink which 

floats Fleet Street. 

Take the most beautiful village in the Scottish 
Highlands, no other than Aboyne, where the 
" Cock o' the North " roosts; the swift, silver Dee 
coming down past it from Royal Balmoral; and the 
westering, blue-vaulted hills, crowned by " dark 
Lochnagar," on which Byron " roved a young High- 
lander." Suppose a keen and kilted little angler 
whose small " bum-bee " trout fly had been seized 
by a stupid, blundering great salmon. One wallop 

'5 



THE SOUTHERN ROAD 

of his surly bulk in the water and all the tackle was 
gone, and nearly the rod itself, and there was no 
more fishing that morning. But, hullo 1 Was there 
not in this the making of a gallant yarn about a sea- 
serpent in the Dee, the posting of it to an Aberdeen 
paper, and the glorious appearance of it in print a 
day or two later. 

What a wizard, heady thing is the first spot of 
printer's ink, not to speak of the seven and sixpence 
which, at a penny a line, another revelation, that 
story brought to its marvelling author. He did not 
quite know why it had, in the paper, been headed 
" A Krakan in the Dee " instead of his own " A 
Sea-Serpent in the Dee," but that did not disqualify 
his bliss. It was shared, the precious thing, by a 
wonderful mother, whose tender heart and shining 
Highland soul were as lamps to larger ventures ; 
shared also by two of those old-time parochial 
schoolmasters who educated the youth of Scotland 
as it has never been educated since, and sent it 
to ancient universities and then, peradventure, to 
Fleet Street, in London Town, and the discovery 
of Hanging Sword Alley 1 

But this was never in a single passage, and so 
there was an apprenticeship few months to news- 
gathering in that flat, dour half of Aberdeenshire 
which throws itself into the grey North Sea, at the 

16 




Hanging Sword Alley , a Whitefriars court which offers a 

romantic salute to every new venturer in Fleet Street, and, 

to old habitants, swords for two and coffee for one. 

17 



THE SOUTHERN ROAD 

Bullers o* Buchan, immortalised, if not well de- 
scribed, by James Boswell in his biography of Dr. 
Johnson. No wonder if Samuel, of Gough Court, 
Fleet Street, London, who loved comfort, felt it cold 
there, for nothing stands between it and the North 
Pole, and its rocks, rising sheer from deep, tumul- 
tuous waters, have, in stormy weather, ever been a 
graveyard for ships. 

Then Aberdeen, with its granite houses, sparkling 
like stars on a moonlight night, true token of the shy 
warmth within, its crunching, cobbled streets and its 
renown in learning, in theology, in Scots humorous 
stories and in good citizenship. A tramp to it, 
sore-footed but happy, from a village twenty-five 
miles away, on a Sabbath Day, was an unknown 
introduction to the later, familiar " scoops " of 
Fleet Street. 

A noble and amiable lord, the husband of a noble 
and amiable lady, both considerable figures in 
public life, had made a speech late on a Saturday 
evening. Nobody else there to let the world know 
what he said and no way, on the morrow, of getting 
what he said to the Aberdeen paper. Sit up late, 
to write out the chronicle ; a good sleep in the 
caller air ; and in the morning an idea : why not 
walk yes, walk the twenty-five miles to Aber- 
deen ? It would get his lordship into print on the 

18 



A SUNDAY WALK 

Monday morning, instead of the Tuesday, and the 
opposition organ wouldn't have a word of him. 

Splendid ; and anyhow, it was " Go west, young 
manl" as Abraham Lincoln, Horace Greeley, or 
both of them, advised Americans to do, and the 
Highland Aberdeenshire, poor but beautiful like a 
Highland lass, was my native sweetheart, with its 
alluring Strathdee, of boyhood, and its kindly Strath- 
don of childhood and their chorus to each other : 

" A'e mile o* Don's worth twa o* Dee, 
Except it be for fish an' tree." 

A well-breakfasted, hopeful start on this long 
tramp, never a " lift " of any kind along the road, 
for the Sabbath Day was still the Sabbath Day in 
Scotland ; and then, in the evening, a tired climb up 
a newspaper office stair near Aberdeen's Marischal 
College. A mighty sub-editor, whom it was 
usually U$e-majeste to approach, though his hidden 
heart was really kind, positively beamed about it 
all, and a line in Monday morning's contents-bill 
seemed like a blazon of fame, not yet come, perhaps, 
but, for all that, dazzling. 

Ah 1 and to think how, when, in the goodness of 

time, we perhaps do something, it is worth just 

nothing to ourselves, so much Dead Sea fruit, un- 

flavoured in the stress of winning. No doubt one 

c 19 



THB SOUTHERN ROAD 

of the high secrets of life is to keep the oil of youth 
burning in the lamp of age, but how many of us 
succeed in doing that ? 

Anyhow, there was William Alexander, lovable 
man, wise editor, author of " Johnnie Gibb of 
Gushetneuk," which founded the Scottish modern 
" kail-yard school," saving that fore-running novel, 
John Gait's " Parish." See Dr. Alexander, with 
his cripple leg, begotten of an accident when he was 
still his father's farmer boy, and his stout stick, walk 
down stately, noisy Union Street of a morning, and 
you saw Aberdeen take off its hat in homage to him, 
and it is indeed true fame to be a prophet in your 
own country. How encouraging, how guiding, 
how fatherly he was to likely young spirits who came 
within his ken, and so say all of us, far scattered and 
few though we now are. 

Even when he liked you, he let you, without a 
touch of hurt fatherliness, take the Southern Road. 
Seek the sun 1 So it was a natural road, and it 
called, firstly, as far as Edinburgh and all that 
" mine own romantic town " of Walter Scott's 
affection is to a real and leal Scotsman. What 
does it not stand for ? 

The singing traditions and glamorous history of 
an ancient capital ; laughing, sad Mary Stuart and 
preaching John Knox ; grey, kindly Holyrood, and 

20 



THE COLOUR OF EDINBURGH 

the precipitous, picturesque High Street ; St. 
Giles's Cathedral, where Jenny Geddes flung a 
stool that missed its man but made history ; the 
immobile yet winged Castle on the eternal rock ; 
flaunting Princes Street beyond the garden valley ; 
the Calton Hill, with its Greek columns left un- 
finished, as if Scots Presbyterianism feared that a 
voice might some day, from one of them, call 
forth an alien religion 1 Edinburgh meant, too, a 
larger because a national journalism, and it meant 
personally the famous university and its classes, 
especially David Masson and his chair of English 
literature. 

Somebody must have said, thoughtlessly, of 
course, that a Scotsman cannot speak English, to 
which there would be the easy reply, " May be 
aye, may be no, but he can teach it 1 " There can 
never have been a more formidable professor of the 
English language and its literature than David 
Masson, and one treasures and re-reads, though 
the shorthand script is sometimes difficult, a volume 
in which his lectures were chronicled. He came 
from Aberdeen, and he always struck you as, in- 
wardly, a sweet William Alexander and as, out- 
wardly, a rugged Thomas Carlyle. What could be 
better than a " gentle Elia " bound in a lion's skin ? 
Aye, and David Masson could roar to effect. 

21 



THE SOUTHERN ROAD 

An American, having the name of Donnelly, and 
an Irish mental twist, was then raging and tearing 
about Shakespeare as being really Bacon. Masson 
took him in hand, and when he had finished hammer- 
ing him on his class-room desk, there wasn't much 
Donnelly left and no Bacon. His grey hair leapt 
with the vigour of his eloquence, his eyes flashed 
scorn as well as scholarship and his Victorian beard 
shook destruction at this impious Yankee, burgling 
the sacred temple of English letters. We, like the 
Tuscan ranks in Macaulay's " Lays," could " scarce 
forbear a cheer," and sometimes we did cheer. 

There were still clear echoes of Robert Louis 
Stevenson at Edinburgh University, and that led to 
the idea of writing something about him, perhaps 
a small volume of memories gathered from those 
who had known him familiarly in the flesh and, as 
far as they could, in the spirit. His father's old 
clerk was supposed to be the best depository of this 
sort of information, and he was visited, with dis- 
couraging results. 

Louis 1 Well, he was a Stevenson, but he hadn't 
built any of the Northern Lights, and so what was 
there to be said about him ? He, himself, was writing 
in far Samoa then, and wasn't that enough, and, in 
any case, his father's factotum didn't remember 
anything specially interesting about Louis, though 

22 



A FRIEND OF STEVENSON 

he had known him as child, boy and young man 
oh, aye 1 

Therefore, that idea died at the first shot, or 
rather for want of any ammunition, because Charles 
Baxter, Writer to the Signet, an early crony and life- 
long friend of " R. L. S.," was happened on later. 
" During his whole life," said he of Stevenson, " he 
had an extraordinary amount of vivacity, simply no 
end of spirits. Once, in giving them fling, he was 
hauled before the Edinburgh magistrates for snow- 
balling in the streets, but he came out of the scrape 
without harm. He was a picturesque personality as 
a student, for he wore his hair long, was strong in 
velveteen jackets and sometimes came forth in a 
loose sort of Spanish cloak/* Even so, added this 
good friend, he had none of the merely literary 
person's " pale cast of thought " in his character and 
never developed it, " R. L. S.'* being a real man. 

Fortunately, there were other things, besides un- 
wanted biographies, to write in Edinburgh, on two 
guineas a week. Not very much stipend that, per- 
haps, but it was all right if you had a shilling over on 
the Sabbath Day, to put in the plate at St. Giles's. 
Would you have put it all there, if the classic offering 
in a Scots kirk is a penny ? Not, though, in St. 
Giles's, because it is a cathedral and different. 

You might have discussed all that humorously 
23 



THE SOUTHERN ROAD 

enough with John Stuart Blackie, if you had waylaid 
him in Princes Street by touching the hem of his 
shepherd tfcrtan shawl. He had been Professor of 
Greek in Edinburgh University, and he might have 
been an ancient Greek if his views had not been so 
modern and liberal as a patriotic Scot, most dear to 
his countrymen. Almost he was a link with the 
Edinburgh of Byron's " Scotch Reviewers," in spirit, 
anyhow, and the influence of his poetic, picturesque 
character was great in all the " north countree." 

By and by there came a " call " to Birmingham, 
though the use and significance of the word is rather 
confined to gentlemen of the cloth, not of the press. 
This meant taking the road which Johnson declared 
the noblest view a Scotsman could have, the road 
to England. But if you cross the Border at night 
you do not get the view, and so need not discuss a 
saying which Boswell probably put into Johnson's 
mouth, or, if he did not do that, expressed in a 
better way than his master would have done. Like 
most Scotsmen, " Bozzy " loved to " pull the leg >f of 
his own country, and if it be a doubtful patriotism, 
it is a weakness which has added to the world's 
treasury of humour. 

Birmingham on a cold spring morning was strange 
and forbidding enough to send a Scotsman back 
over the Border, but it grew kindlier, friendlier, in 

24 



A TRAGEDY OF ROMANCE 

the muddly, rough way, characteristic of the Mid- 
lands. Very self-contained, very self-reliant, very 
Joseph Chamberlain it was, with Edgbaston as a 
beauty corner, but it was not an anchorage for ever. 
A last page of ink spilt in it was around the recurring 
interest in the still mysterious tragedy of Prince 
Rudolph, heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne, and 
his beautiful seventeen-year-old lady love, Baroness 
Marie Vetsera. It will continue to intrigue the 
world, and a psychological " leader " on it was a new 
exploit in writing to a young hand, and therefore a 
personal recollection. 

Sometimes, for the mills of God come round in a 
circle, the individual is permitted to overtake his 
earlier self as a journalist, and long years later, a 
holiday in Austria did this for me with the Prince 
Rudolph affair. At Sch6nbrunn, the former Imper- 
ial palace near Vienna, you may, under the Republic, 
visit the apartments in which Rudolph and his 
bride, a daughter of King Leopold of the Belgians, 
were lodged after their marriage. Dark, dreary 
rooms, looking out on a dull landscape, and every- 
thing within formal and heavy. Especially, coffin- 
like, wooden beds standing side by side, with a 
correctitude and severity calculated not only to 
chill romance but to murder it. 

No mirth, no sentiment, no poetry in these royal 



THE SOUTHERN ROAD 

chambers ; only the drab dead weight of convention 
and ceremony, arch-enemies of happy married love. 
Small wonder if light died out of any love there had 
been between the handsome, temperamental Haps- 
burg and his Belgian bride, and that may have 
started him on his will-o'-the-wisp nocturnes. 
Speculation ; and among the charming, frankly 
spoken Viennese one found no sure catechism as to 
how the fatality happened in the Prince's shooting- 
lodge at Mayerling. Many English people have 
been in the same mind towards another affair which 
stirred the world about the Eighteen-Nineties, the 
May brick Case. 

Newspaper adventure in Fleet Street takes no 
account of age or experience, but just calls you 
to do something if you are handy, not quite im- 
possible, and there's nobody else. Thus the trial, 
at Liverpool, of Florence Maybrick, on the 
charge of poisoning her husband with arsenic, 
fell among the early thrills of " our Special Corre- 
spondent." 

She, in the dock, a pale-faced, slender woman of 
education, breeding and still good looks, dressed in 
black. Sir James Fitzjames Stephen on the bench, 
a once brilliant mind in an almost rustic body, and 
the time not long before he retired. Sir Charles 
Russell, a great advocate and looking grave, because 

26 



v_ * 




THE SOUTHERN ROAD 

he was defending the life of a woman in whose 
innocence he sincerely believed, then and afterwards. 
A rather ordinary-looking Lancashire jury, un- 
thankful, like all juries, at being there, and the 
Liverpool populace crowding outside. 

" Guilty ! " Nobody who hears that deliverance 
from a jury trying the capital charge, can ever forget 
the knell in it, as of a death-bell. It means the 
judge's black cap, mourning the condemned, a 
scaffold death by hanging, and an ordeal to go 
through for everybody present. When Mrs. May- 
brick heard it she gave a cry like a stricken animal 
and fell against the side of the dock. That incident 
was as the last rack in her trial, and it hurt an 
onlooker almost as much as hearing the sentence 
and its epilogue, " May God have mercy on your 
soul/ 1 

Afterwards the Judge's carriage was stoned, as it 
drove him to his lodgings, and soon there arose a 
tremendous national hubbub. The death sentence 
was eventually commuted to penal servitude for 
life ; which meant Mrs. Maybrick's release many 
years ago now, when she had grown middle-aged. 
Queen Victoria, as one of her letters tells us, re- 
gretted that " so wicked a woman should escape by 
a mere legal quibble," and added in her hardest 
vein of comment, " The law is not a moral profession 

28 



A PERSONAL JUDGMENT 

. . . her sentence must never be further commuted." 
Decisive, was it not ? 

The Maybrick Case, with its extraordinary 
reaction on public feeling and opinion in England, 
and also in Mrs. Maybrick's native country, 
America, is now history. Nevertheless, for the 
" human document " in it, a " still, small voice " 
may perhaps record a personal postscript. One 
means one's on-the-spot impression and judgment 
of the whole affair ; the woman in it, and the 
verdict. It was, somehow, that she was innocent 
of taking her husband's entangled life, certainly no 
actual murderess, and that she had been caught in 
the meshes of circumstantial evidence, which, in 
itself, was incomplete. She did not comport herself 
like a guilty woman, but her insistence on making a 
statement against the advice of Sir Charles Russell, 
and her intrigue with a lover, told definitely against 
her in the minds of a perhaps not very penetrating 



Assuredly most of us who watched and wrote of 
her day by day, and heard and saw everything, would 
have said " Not guilty," or, at the least, if it had 
been a Scots trial, " Not proven." Even the much- 
stressed line, in one of her letters, about her husband 
being " sick unto death," carried no sense of guilt, 
because it was only an echo, by an educated woman, 

29 



THE SOUTHERN ROAD 

of a Biblical expression. Lastly, you may take all 
this view of an eye-witness, intuition and feeling 
more than the precise assessment of evidence, as an 
example of the inner gleam on public and personal 
events which one gets through the windows of 
Fleet Street. 




III. THE DREAM AND THE BUSINESS 

Newly divulged stories about Benjamin Disraeli's 
death, his historic Suez Canal deal and the Parnell 
Commission ; with their cross-lights on the natural 
history of that strange, uncanny creature, " The Scoop" 

ILEET STREET is not a place where the sun 
always shines, where the wind never blows, 
and where there is constant music. That 
would be a heaven on earth, and as fairies are 
not good enough for one, and too good for the other, 
so people in Fleet Street encounter uncertainties. 
But the calling is a splendid venture, and however 
the election may go, no born newspaper man would 
wish to be anything else. 

It is, like most other things, first and always an 
affair of personality, and whether yours is the right 
kind of personality or not. You must be able to see 
visions and dream dreams, because that means a flair 
for the elements of news, the sighting or scenting 
of it before it is definite enough for anyone else to 
grasp. But the visioning and the dreaming must 
fructify in facts which, in the words of Robert Burns, 



THE DREAM AND THE BUSINESS 

"winna ding and daurna' be disputed." His 
famous " chiel," taking notes and printing them, 
has to be no mere clerk in orders, but a fellow of 
quick imagination and quick execution, else he will 
be late in Fleet Street, even as the 'Nineties ruled it. 

Has there, though, ever been a good journalist 
or author who did not put off writing his article, or 
his essay, until the last moment and then go 
desperately at it. If it has a man's mind and spirit 
and body all in it, it is a crucifixion, and he leaves 
the cross, limp and weary. He is sacrificing him- 
self that others may read, making a Roman holiday 
on a better model, and as an eminent practitioner 
said to me not long ago, " Heaven only knows why 
we go on doing it." 

No doubt there is the fortunate man who just 
M flings things off," but he is up against the damning 
wisdom, " Easy writing makes hard reading." The 
most brilliant work in Fleet Street is often done at 
hurricane speed, but not in a hurry, because it has 
been thought out. The human machine behind it 
has had all the pains of labour, just as these are 
behind everything that is created, from a poem to a 
baby. For the rest, as somebody has sung : 

" Upon this earthly scene 
We have our ups and downs> of course^ 
And the twiddly bits in between" 

3* 



THE DYING " DIZZY 1 ' 



Happily, perhaps, the daily round of Fleet Street 
does not encourage reasons why, but it has its 
intriguing and revealing confidences. These 
mostly take the form of personal experiences 
among the brotherhood, and they can be both 
dramatic and enlightening, like one told me by 
an old London news-gatherer about Beaconsfield's 
death. 

He had chronicled his doings when he was, as 
his biographers say, the " strange and impressive 
figure that you might meet, any day in the late 
'Seventies, during the session, sauntering slowly on 
Rowton's arm down Whitehall. A frame once 
large and powerful, now shrunken and obviously in 
physical decay, but preserving a conscious dignity 
and, whenever aware of observation, regaining with 
effort an erect attitude." Now he lay dying in 
Curzon Street, many columns of type were ready in 
Fleet Street to print his life-story, and it was only 
a question of who should be first with the announce- 
ment of his death. 

My ancient friend, a most practised hand in such 
undertakings, was delegated by his particular news- 
agency to see that it should be first, and he took his 
measures. There were no telephones in those 
timid but picturesque days, and the telegraph did 
not apply to a case of urgency in London. So he 

33 



THE DREAM AND THE BUSINESS 

rented a furnished room in Curzon Street, opposite 
" Dizzy's " house, after making certain soundings 
there during his calls for the morning and evening 
bulletins. 

When the end got very close he himself, or a 
lieutenant not less trusty, kept constant watch, from 
the hired room, on the windows opposite. This, 
until in the fullness of death, a dignified, solemn 
figure in uniform appeared at one of them, wiping 
his eyes with a red silk handkerchief ! By such a 
sign our mercury-in-waiting knew that Beaconsfield 
was no more, and he thereupon took a swift carriage, 
also in waiting, to his office with the historic news. 
Meanwhile the same, dignified, solemn figure, no 
longer red-handkerchiefed, slowly drew down the 
blinds of Beaconsfield's house, in general token that 
a prince and a king had fallen in Israel. " I'd 
rather live," he had murmured with a failing voice, 
" but I'm not afraid to die." 

A " scoop," meaning the exclusive capture and 
publication of an extraordinary piece of news, is not 
nearly so new as this name, by which it now goes in 
Fleet Street. Beaconsfield himself unconsciously 
gave the clue for one when, casually and wilily, 
he ordered a special train so as to emphasise his 
views at the Berlin Conference, by threatening 
to leave it. Peel was the hero of another around 

34 



THE SUEZ CANAL DEAL 

the repeal of the Corn Laws, and there was an 
echo of it and a fashionable lady in one of 
George Meredith's novels. Years later he learned 
that she had nothing to do with the making 
known of Peel's conversion, and he said so with 
a gallantry characteristic of the Rupert of Victorian 
novelists. 

An anthology of Fleet Street " scoops," if it could 
be made, with due attestations and explanations, 
would really be a direct commentary on English 
history. As again, the letting out of the news of 
Gladstone's conversion to Home Rule, in a " kite " 
flown to prepare the way, and of his final retirement 
from politics, favourably attributed to an over- 
hearing butler at a dinner party, though authorita- 
tive history sayeth not. But, in hands less patriotic 
than those into which it fell, a hasty word about the 
affair of Beaconsfield and the Suez Canal shares 
might have made a " scoop " of surpassing signi- 
ficance and consequences. 

The glittering tale has often been told, though 
not, may be, just as I heard it, more than once, from 
a beloved friend, Mr. A. J. Wilson, the knight, 
without fear or reproach, of City Editors. His 
richness of mind and beauty of character are a 
treasured memory, alike in the writing circles 
of Fleet Street, to which he contributed with 
D 35 



THE DREAM AND THE BUSINESS 

the uplift of his Scots hills and the clarity of 
French prose ; and in the bank parlours of the 
City of London, which entrusted their secrets 
to his advice and thought it an honour to them- 
selves, 

He always gave another famous journalist, 
Frederick Greenwood, the initial credit for 
" Dizzy's " consummate stroke, but that is not the 
point here. The point is that Greenwood, though 
an active editor, never thought of even hinting that 
the Khedive of Egypt was selling his shares in the 
Suez Canal, that Beaconsfield and Derby were 
buying them, and that this meant not merely a 
transaction out of which the Stock Exchange, if it 
knew, could make fortunes, but that it gave us the 
ultimate control of the Suez Canal. A few other 
journalists came to share the secret and the silence, 
and Wilson knew for three critical days, while the 
deal was going through. When, afterwards, a big 
London stockbroker said chaffingly to him, " If 
you had only given me a wink, how wealthy we 
might both be," he just answered, " Of course 



not." 



One wonders if a state secret could be as well 
kept to-day, when there are far more people " in 
the know " and the pursuit of news of all sorts is 
so terribly eager. Definite confidences are never 

36 



ON BEING FIRST 

broken in Fleet Street, the most patriotic street in 
the Empire, but a whisper may innocently enough 
pass into a public report. Oftener than not, in- 
deed, " scoops " and " beats," or whatever you like 
to call them, are in the nature of chance happenings, 
though they can be the fruit of alertness, fore- 
thought, enterprise and organisation. 

Of old, they and their psychology would neither 
have been cared for nor understood by the general 
reader. To-day his curiosity for knowledge is 
universal, and, collectively he has millions invested 
in newspaper properties, which return him a hand- 
some interest, thank you ! So " scoops " and 
" beats," having something to do with newspaper 
circuktions and prosperity, are not unknown terms 
outside Fleet Street, their natural and parental 
home. Aforetime, also, a journal having alone 
given the world a slice of high information, said 
no more about it. It simply cast its special news 
upon the waters of Fleet Street, as the " Daily 
Telegraph " did its historic interview with Kaiser 
Wilhelm II, and proudly let other papers copy and 
acknowledge, as sometimes they had to do with wry 
faces. 

We have changed all that, for ill or well, and 
when any daily, with certain modest exceptions 
dear to our heart, gets a " scoop," the welkin rings 

37 



THE DREAM AND THE BUSINESS 

with it for days. Perhaps Mr. Humbert Wolfe 
was thinking of that when he wrote : 

" Tou cannot hope 
To bribe or twist > 
Thank God, the 
British journalist. 

" But seeing what 
The man will do 
Unbribed) there's 
No occasion to" 

A pretty humour, but the plain, general reader 
with something invested in Fleet Street, or buying 
his life insurance with his paper every morning, says, 
of a " scoop," " Our paper, my dear ; going strong, 
to do that." It all makes for education about 
Fleet Street, where every man worthy of his salt, 
whether taken in Scots porridge or not, hopes, one 
fine day, to have his particular victory, precisely as a 
soldier, Marshal Foch being an example, hopes to 
have his battle, or once did, for the spirit of peace 
now happily has most victories. 

Out of one's own experience it is possible to 
contribute a little thrill of this sort, and moreover it 
illustrates the chance, the accidental element in 

38 



A PARNELL POSTSCRIPT 

" scoops." It belongs to that colourful event of the 
'Nineties, the Parnell Commission, and so to prime- 
val times, may be, in the eyes of " bright young 
people/' who date history by the Great War and its 
relevance and importance by the years in which 





Original sketches, by the late Sir Frank Lockwood, Q.C., of Richard 
Pigott, the forger of the historic Parnell Letters, and of Le Caron, the 
notorious Anti-Irish spy. 

they themselves were born. Therefore it is well 
to say that " Parnellism and Crime " was an indict- 
ment by " The Times " of the Irish leader and his 
party, and that they demanded a special commission 
before which they could vindicate themselves. 

Sir Charles Russell, still that, and not Lord 
Russell of Killowen, as he became, had, in his eager 
advocacy for Parnell, a few tiffs with Sir James 

39 



THE DREAM AND THE BUSINESS 

Hannen, the dignified, urbane President of the 
Commission. Once, in fact, over some point of 
procedure or evidence, he lost his generous Irish 
temper, took a furious pinch of snuff, flourished his 
.red handkerchief and walked out of court, deeply 
hurt. 

Between him and Sir James there was a sincere 
liking, both being men of large character and 
hearts, and each of them felt the distress of the 
incident. They silently made this apparent, and 
by and by came Russell's great, closing address, 
because he was a full, eloquent orator, on behalf of 
Parnell. When he sat down, with tears of emotion 
in his eyes, for he was an Irishman pleading his 
country's cause, as well as an advocate, Sir James 
Hannen sent him a written word of congratulation 
from the bench : " A great speech, worthy of a 
great occasion/' 

It flowered and flamed in all the papers next 
morning, and there was a deuce of a row as to how 
it got there. A personal word, a purely private 
scrap of paper, a gracious gesture, especially in view 
of the tiffs there had been 1 And there it was, 
blazoned to the public, who might see in it an 
almost improper communication from a presiding 
judge to a leading counsel, in a most controversial 
political trial. Its every phase had been governed 

40 



THE WHISPER OF A COURT 

by punctilious correctness, and no wonder Sir James 
Hannen was angry and demanded explanations. 
Everybody, official and legal, was quite ignorant, 
quite innocent, and so nobody, from ushers to 
big wigs, could give the least explanation. Well, 
here, after all those years, when no harm can be 
done, and, one hopes, none encountered, is what 
happened. 

Sir Charles Russell's wife and daughter were 
present to hear his address for Parnell, and they sat 
in a pew sort of seat, with, immediately behind 
them, three of the newspaper men reporting the 
Commission. Nearest the well of the court was a 
young fellow with brownish-black hair and lots of 
it, a face as fresh as Scots heather, an eye made 
observant among mountain ranges, and an ear 
trained there to be clear of hearing. He also had a 
flying pencil, because the world waited to read the 
eloquent Russell's moving peroration. 

Presently, from beside Sir Charles, in the Q.C/s 
seats, because Queen Victoria then reigned, there 
came Sir Frank Lockwood, also a counsel for 
Parnell. He was prompted by his kind heart to 
congratulate Lady Russell and her daughter on the 
speech, and to tell them of Sir James Hannen's 
graceful message. He rested his shapely, artistic 
hand, token of the amateur cartoonist as well as the 

4* 



THE DREAM AND THE BUSINESS 

successful lawyer, where the young Scots reporter 
was writing. Then he leant over to the ladies, 
said a few nice words for himself, and whispered 
the Presidential message : " A great speech, worthy 
of a great occasion." 

That little happening illustrates what should 
always be remembered about Fleet Street, that the 
men and women who work its daily miracle of 
recording and reflecting the life of the world, are 
anonymous and unknown, not just a few with 
familiar names. Here is a grand army which 
achieves in silence, for it is an achievement that, 
amid hurry and bustle, such a wonderfully accurate 
review of human activity should be served up with 
our English breakfast every morning. 



42 




IV. WHAT EVERYBODY DOESN'T KNOW 

The news that lies behind the news, circulating 
silently, as do tidings in the Arabian Desert ; and that 
leads to the love story of Charles Stewart Parnell and 
" Kitty" O'Shea; and to austere Cardinal Manning. 

NE of the constant charms of a journalistic 
(life to the student of human nature and, 
'consciously or unconsciously, we are all 
that is the knowledge of why and how 
events happen, not merely what happens. It is 
the outcome, the consequence of things, you get on 
your breakfast-table in the morning, or before din- 
ner in the evening. But the Fleet Street man, if he 
is living and working in its inner whispering gallery, 
hears the causes, the origins, the whole story. 

This holds even to-day, when the papers are much 
franker about personal affairs than they were in the 
'Nineties, though not more frank than they were in 
the 'Nineties of the eighteenth century, and not so 
coarse. A journalist's wife must, until she gets to 
know the way of his world, be surprised by his com- 
mentaries on the news, for she hears all that isn't 

43 



WHAT EVERYBODY DOESN*T KNOW 

printed. If she were unbelieving, which, happily, 
she rarely is, she might say with Job : 

" No doubt but ye are the people. 
And wisdom shall die with you" 

Often what the world hears not is more inter- 
esting than what is printed, because it goes down 
to the bedrock of " Why " and " How." Skeletons 
of the cupboard, like jealousies, rivalries, loves and 
hates, get known in Fleet Street, which behaves like 
a gentleman, and only talks about them to itself. 
Moreover, the law of libel lies heavily on too much 
truth, when it is not good that it should be pro- 
claimed on the housetops. 

There are few of us who could not tales unfold 
within twelve hours of the time we have heard them 
and consigned them to the secret-chamber of the 
mind. You do that, just as you throw an impossible 
page of manuscript into the waste-paper basket, or 
as a healthy-minded person forgets the latest stupid, 
naughty story. The value of such a story in Fleet 
Street is, as elsewhere, only oral, and newspaper 
men are practical as well as puritanical. Oh, yes, 
theirs is a calling almost monkish, in that long, un- 
certain, strenuous hours largely cut them out of 
ordinary social life and what goes with it. This 

44 



OUTSIDE AND INSIDE 

tends to that mixture of indifference and austerity 
which marks the solitary, a frequent personality in 
Fleet Street. 

Outsiders have ideas about the newspaper offices 
there which are very remote from what actually 
takes place within them, especially their mental, 
spiritual and even moral atmosphere. Journalists 
are still, to the mob, suspected Bohemians, if not, 
possibly, vagabonds, as actors once were in the eyes 
of authority ; anyhow, they live behind darkened 
windows. There is a like innocence about the 
making and the psychology of a newspaper, and no 
wonder, for it would never, in the saying of an 
American journalist, occur to an outsider that 
" When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because 
it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that 



is news." 



Unknowing people, being also unthinking people, 
have a habit of declaring, " Wouldn't the papers just 
like to publish that ? " Not at all, because what 
any journal contains is a selection of the whole news 
of the day, made, more or less, from its own stand- 
point, which is almost personal, as every paper that 
counts has a personality as well as a public. 

" But," comes the observation, " how do you 
manage to fill your columns every day if you refuse 
these things ? " Well, selection means leaving out 

45 



WHAT EVERYBODY DOESN'T KNOW 

the " impossibles," the scandalous, the dull and the 
unimportant, a judicious acceptance and a stiff 
rejection ; and, even so, enough stuff comes into 
an office every day to fill the paper several times 
over. It comes from near and far, a street accident 
round the corner, a pronouncement by the Grand 
Lama of Tibet, or anything else in this wonderful 
universe. 

For the great news, the occurrence that may 
change history, or the happening that may be a high 
human drama, there is always a lively contest, and a 
certain London evening newspaper won a race like 
that when, in the 'Nineties, it announced the Parnell- 
O'Shea Divorce Case. Everybody in political and 
social circles knew of the love affair between Charles 
Stewart Parnell and " Kitty " O'Shea, the wife of 
Captain O'Shea, whom "The Chief," as Irish 
Nationalists saluted him, had once made an M,P. 
without heeding their protests. 

Would O'Shea bring an action for divorce, and if 
so when, for that would mean a bombshell in the 
politics of the time ? Until an action was actually 
entered there could be no publicity, as Fleet Street 
is thoughtful of feelings, as well as careful of the 
law of libel and that elastic trouble, contempt of 
court. Moreover, the ethic of the Victorian social 
and political world, " Let sleeping dogs lie," ran 

46 



AN UNCROWNED KING*' 

in Fleet Street as elsewhere, so there was little done 
with scandal until it came into the open. 

There is a mirthful if, perhaps, extreme illustra- 
tion of this, in the Victorian memories of the witty 
and wise author of " Dodo," itself an explosive 




A study, from a photograph, of the thin, severe face and the striking, 
masterful head of Charles Stewart Parnett, as he was when he led the 
Irish Party in the House of Commons and was the " uncrowned king " 
of Ireland. 

Victorian " best-seller." " A man," you may read 
in his looking backward, * As We Were,' " could be 
a sincere and devout Christian and yet be keeping 
a mistress ... a certain notable Oxford professor 
of strict Tractarian views, who kept a mistress in 
the town, learned casually from her that she had 
never been confirmed. He was very much upset 

47 



WHAT EVERYBODY DOESN*T KNOW 

by this and persuaded her to receive instruction and 
repair this shocking omission. That made him 
quite happy and their relationship was renewed with 
no cloud to mar its happiness." An idyll, in its 
sort, you perceive, and at least it illustrates a 
Victorian code which held silence to be golden, even 
if it cloaked a love affair. 

One morning a journalist brought news to his 
office, that Captain O'Shea had moved the law, that 
proceedings against his wife and the Irish leader 
were begun. No doubt he got this dramatic 
information from some chance source, and no doubt 
it was true. But, in such a business, confirmation 
is necessary before publication, and here it must be 
on the best possible authority that of Captain 
O'Shea himself. He was known to be in London, 
living in Victoria Street, and thither went the finder 
of the secret, with a younger colleague to bear him 
company. It was not an easy job, and it was 
desirable the chief ambassador should have a witness 
of events. 

A ring at the door of Captain O' Shea's flat, the 
coming, pit-a-pat, of a servant and to an enquiry, 
the reply, " Oh, he's still in bed," for it was early. 
But the business was very important, even urgent, 
and would she kindly tell him that. She did, then 
returned, said to come in, and showed the way to 

48 



CAPTAIN O'SHEA'S SURPRISE 

his room, where, a well-figured, ripely handsome, 
not unjolly Irishman, he was dressing. 

He apologised for this, courteously asked, " But 
why your visit, and so soon on a grey London 
morning ? " and was told. " Is it true that you 
have begun an action for divorce against Mrs. 
O'Shea and named Mr. Parnell co-respondent ? " 
He was neither hostile nor communicative, but 
surprised, and it was easy to see how matters stood 
before he quietly said in effect, " If you know what 
I have done, then you know." The ambassador- 
in-chief, who never failed in two important Fleet 
Street equipments, tact and its quick expression in 
action, said, " Thank you," and within a few hours 
London knew what was coming. 

It is a charge of history against the Victorian 
conscience, even as late as the 'Nineties, that it 
could be "sniffy" as well as indignant in sex matters. 
Who is to draw the line between curiosity for human 
frailty and anger that it should happen, as it has, 
from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, all 
down the ages ? Anyhow, there were probably late 
Victorians who, when they heard of the moral in- 
dictment of Parnell, said to themselves, in a passage, 
which that eloquent, picturesque divine, Dr. Joseph 
Parker, flung from his first London pulpit : "I 
once heard of a man who was too wicked for hell, 

49 



WHAT EVERYBODY DOESN*T KNOW 

so the devil sent him out a teaspoonful of brimstone, 
to set up on his own account." Fortunately, a tea- 
spoonful could not have lasted long, but O'Shea v. 
O'Shea, with Charles Stewart Parnell co-respondent, 
did last, in fact, and in effect. 

Another scene which I well remember in this 
great drama of Ireland's destiny, staged itself one 
cold evening, amid the dank greyness of Euston 
Station when it was lighted by gas. The Holyhead 
Express, with steam hissing from the engine, as if 
it panted to catch the Irish boat, was drawn up at 
one platform, on which many people with conversing 
brogues had gathered. They came to see the 
deposed Irish leader, who, after the divorce and its 
Parliamentary travail for him, was going to Ireland 
to seek a fresh mandate of confidence. 

Presently he arrived, tall, loose in build, bearded, 
wearing a heavy, brownish ulster above a rough 
tweed suit. He lifted his black bowler hat once or 
twice, as he passed through the cheering crowd to 
a compartment that had been reserved for him. 
Before sitting down, he folded a rug over his knees, 
a familiar act in the days of yore, when trains were 
unwarmed, and most deliberate on his part, as if he 
were thinking. But always, though seeming a man 
of thought, he also seemed to make up his mind 
by signs and tokens and realities, rather than by 

50 



PASSION PACKED IN ICE 

reasoning, and certainly he had an uncanny element 
in his personality, revealed and unrevealed. 

His pallid face was drawn and worn, and his eyes 
looked more deeply sunk than ever, under their 
beetling eyebrows. They were strange eyes, small, 
icy, even hard, but with the crouching fire of an 
eagle, and you looked at them again and again 
because they fascinated. They told little, for they 
were searching, not communicative, but somehow 
you saw them as eyes which, for all their cold 
reticence, could flame with passion or leap with 
temper. No man was ever so un-Irish or, at least, 
so un-Celtic in aspect and in temperament as 
Parnell. Possibly that was why he made his Irish 
Party so iron-like nationally, and so purposeful and 
effective as a Parliamentary weapon. 

By nature he had not more words than Oliver 
Cromwell, when he said, " Remove that bauble ! " 
These words were often halting and scattered, as 
if there were dynamic forces within whose full 
feeling they could not express. Moreover, his 
voice was weary, like himself, and he was almost 
haggard when, in answer to calls, " Just a good-bye 
to our God-speed, " he threw the rug from his knees, 
leaned out of the carriage window and spoke. 

The on-looking guard, an Englishman, wanting 
to do the English square thing in any situation, had 



WHAT EVERYBODY DOESN*T KNOW 

raised his green flag, an incidental Irish portent, 
and had his whistle to his mouth to blow the de- 
parture. So waiting, he gave Parnell a full minute's 
grace, while he poured forth half a dozen burning 
sentences. A cloth travelling cap which he had 
put on, and did not now take off, sat so badly on 
his head that locks of his long, lank hair flew out 
beneath it. It was not an heroic head then, because 
wild and agitated, an outward tumult, like the man 
inwardly, but it was memorable. 

What did he say in that hoarse, cold, yet molten, 
voice of his ? It was a siren warning to the Roman 
Catholic priests of Ireland that he would meet them, 
his embattled enemies, face to face on the morrow. 
He had never forgotten that it was the " exiles of 
Erin " his exact phrase who had given him his 
first God-speed. Had they any cause to regret 
that they had stood by him ? Nor would they have 
any now. " You will be with me to the end, and 
together we shall win for Ireland what God has 
determined her right." It was a lofty note, and yet 
a listener felt that it was a forlorn note ; and indeed 
calamity had fallen overpoweringly upon Parnell 
and the Irish Cause. 

We live in an age when a more tolerant, more 
broad-minded view might have been taken of it all, 
and a disaster alike for Ireland and England averted. 

5* 



AN HISTORIC LOVE STORY 

Time mellows social sinning, as well as personal 
bereavement, and the love of Charles Stewart Parnell 
and Katharine O'Shea had elements in it which 
might make it classic when its notoriety and de- 
structiveness have faded. They met by chance, 
or destiny, and they loved whole-heartedly, he a 
bachelor, against whom the world had no record 
even of " wild oats," she a gifted, beautiful woman 
whose marriage had been unlovely and unhappy. 

Throw those things against the world's screen of 
great loves, that of Paolo and Francesca, that of 
Abelard and Heloise or that of Nelson and Emma 
Hamilton. Then whisper humbly to yourself the 
lament of Robert Burns, " Had we never loved so 
fondly," and, may be, you will feel that Parnell and 
the woman who became his wife fared hard, though 
the immediate dictum of Cardinal Manning remains. 
" There can," said he to a seeker of his opinion on 
the Parnell tragedy and romance, " be no argument 
about expediency from the point of view of politics, 
when a moral question remains." 

Before he died, Manning had become a figure of 
exalted influence in the common life and labour of 
London. He could step down from the altar to 
the street and bring the spiritual prestige of the one 
to the practical problems of the other, without shock 
to either. He was discreet as to whom he spoke 

53 



WHAT EVERYBODY DOESN'T KNOW 

for print, and careful, as with Victorian precision in 
letter-writing, of the form in which he spoke. But 
through his kindly secretary, dear little Canon 
Johnston, he was accessible, also gracious, and it 
was not easy for anybody to seem that in a drab 
place like his Archbishop's House on the lower 
confines of Westminster, 

Was it a horse-bus strike, lasting a week, and 
holding up London in the 'Nineties, that took me 
to see Manning on a Sunday morning ? A little 
wait in a room with aggressively upstanding bare 
chairs and two tall, old-fashioned candle-sticks burn- 
ing on a writing-table. Without there was fog, 
and it came within as the ancient " London par- 
ticular " knew well how to do. So, when Manning 
appeared from a quietly opened door, wearing his 
cardinal-red cassock and biretta, he seemed to move 
in a cloud of incense, though no acolytes attended 
him. 

He looked both the colourful Prince of the Roman 
Church and the grey-skinned ascetic, and age and 
a stoop gave him a venerable and fragile air. His 
outheld hand was thin and bony, but it had a warm 
grasp, and his voice when he said, " Glad to see 
youdo sit down," was an evidence of his easy 
naturalness. He spoke not only deliberately but 
rather slowly, feeling his way, as if the lights 

54 



THE SIMPLE DEATH 

and shades of three personalities were in what he 
said ; a Churchman and ecclesiastical statesman, 
an Englishman of character and parts, and a man 
democratic and plain. 

When he died and lay on his small, iron bed, in 
a room not larger than a monastery cell, he might 
have been a statue to the personal austerity of his 
life and the mental velvetness of his character. 
" You see by his face,'* said faithful Canon John- 
ston, " how peacefully he passed away," and the 
lines were so fine, so composed, that they might, 
indeed, have been cast in marble. Nothing to 
repine about, but a warrior who had laid aside his 
polished armour after a long campaign, and we only 
whispered " Amen," and left him to his rest. 

His Church buried him with all its pageantry and 
pomp, but across the years, one thinks of him as he 
was to the eye, simple and serving, a picture he, 
perhaps, liked to associate with St. Francis of 
Assisi, his favourite saint. That, of course, was 
only part of him, for his personality had threads 
which, in other years, might have made him a subtle, 
considering English Cardinal Richelieu. 



55 



V. HERALDS OF A NEW WORLD 

When modern life was young and English political 
elections were adventures ; and when Madame 
Blavatsky and Annie Besant were, with their Mahat- 

Sy striking the trail of the miracle we call" Wireless" 



M 



:ANY of the things which are now as 
familiar to us as morning and night were 
only coming along in the Eighteen- 
Nineties, a time of great blooming, both 
in thought and creation. An original idea or 
invention is apt to find a cold reception, like a late 
baby in a grown-up family. Motherliness is needed 
to make a cradle rock well, and Fleet Street is a 
mother of men and women. 

It gets the first, hazy gleams of new stars in the 
firmament of human life, and by hook and crook it 
hammers them into everybody in the name of news. 
Call it a " common informer," and you use a phrase 
which legally has a nasty taste, but in direct human 
significance is all right. It is true, though it may 
sound unlikely to stranger ears, that a deftly done 
newspaper paragraph, the tabloid of Fleet Street 

56 



COMETS OF A SEASON 

and difficult to write, will blaze a trail which many 
sermons, speeches, or even treatises, would only 
darken to the waiting masses. 

To-day we can speak on the telephone across the 
globe and back again, but that was not dreamt of 
in the 'Nineties. Even long-distance land tele- 
phones were not an order of the day, and this sug- 
gests one of those little adventures which enable 
Fleet Street to time not only its own stride but the 
march of the world at large. Ever the stimulus is 
this contact, by chance, circumstance or something 
else, with the comet of a season, and then its parade 
in the heavens of publicity. 

A by-election had been taking place in a small 
English town rather historic for its swift changes 
in politics, and on that account interesting as a 
barometer of public opinion. Polling day had 
come round, and a lately recruited, very young, 
reporter, on a leading news-agency, found himself 
delegated to " do the result." Not merely that. 
He was exhorted to get it to London before anybody 
else, because there is a keen competition among the 
news-agencies to be first with election results, as 
with other things. The exhortation took the form 
of soft flattery, but there had also been a graver note 
of command to succeed in this mission. It was 
" You're the lad to do it," and " We expect you to 

57 



HERALDS OF A NEW WORLD 

do it," that double text of life which is supposed to 
get the best out of us, and often doesn't. 

What was the poor fellow to think or do ? He 
wondered and again wondered while he sat in a 
London train carrying him to the town of the elec- 
tion, which need not be given its name, having 
regard to what happened, especially as it might 
have happened somewhere else, the god of luck 
being no geographer. 

A cigarette is a breath for the mind, and our 
friend was lighting one when another young man, 
seated on the opposite seat in the railway carriage 
said, " Forgive me, but I've left my case at home 
could you spare me one." Surely, and they talked 
while they smoked, and it turned out that they were 
both travelling to the same election. When they 
arrived they went and had lunch at a hostelry which 
is mentioned more than once in the chronicles of 
English literature, especially by Charles Dickens, 
and thus a friendship grew. 

Mr. Fleet Street, with the candour of his calling 
oh, yes ! said, " My people expect me to get 
the election result to them first, but I haven't the 
least idea how I'm to do it. There will be a dozen 
other men here, and we'll all, I suppose, be given the 
figures at the same time. Then it will be a rush 
to the telegraph office and devil take the hindmost," 

58 



A FRIENDLY HAND 

He never mentioned the word " telephone," of 
course, because its day for such emergencies had 
not yet quite come. 

" Let's see," quoth the other luncher, after a 
little ; " there may be a way out for you, I'm the 
Returning Officer's clerk, and that's why I'm here. 
The reporters will be waiting at the door of the 
counting room for the result, that being the usual 
thing. I'll be opening the door and asking them 
in all together, to hear the figures read out by the 
Returning Officer. Be close against the door and 
I'll recognise you as a friend and shake your hand. 
You'll find in mine a slip of paper ; bolt with it to 
the telegraph office." 

And so it all fell out ; and the contents of that 
slip of paper were known in every London news- 
paper office, and in every London club, ten minutes 
before competing messages came along to confirm it. 
But, alas, the fortunate sender had his satisfaction 
sadly damaged while he was walking back to the 
Dickensian hotel where he was to stay the night. 
The free electors were expressing their feelings over 
the outcome of the contest, and this included some 
horse-play, for which, indeed, the town had made 
a reputation. 

One specimen of it was a sweep's sack which a 
demonstrator neatly wrapped round the head and 

59 



HERALDS OF A NEW WORLD 

shoulders of our stranger. When he had dis- 
entangled himself he was as black as a nigger, and 
at his hotel he was saluted with roars of laughter, 
hard for him to accompany. He made the best of 
it, even of the mocking merriment of two pretty 
barmaids, but to look ridiculous is to feel blas- 
phemous. It took him the rest of the night to get 
white again, and he was sincerely glad to be back 
next day in Fleet Street. 

True to its mission, it had, somewhat earlier, 
recorded what were, perhaps, the first Western 
whisperings of the magic we now call wireless 
telegraphy, or still more familiarly " wireless." 
May be even Fleet Street may not have known as 
much, but it could as it always can make out a 
good case for its forecasts of knowledge, especially 
with the help of that remarkable woman, Annie 
Besant, in her later life a red light of India, whose 
spiritual faiths have held her in fee, as she has held it. 

Old is the story, no doubt, but the passage of 
time, even of centuries, does not make news old if it 
has a human appeal, much more, an appeal of the 
soul and the mind. Fleet Street would stir, as with 
the bursting free of the Fleet River itself, if some 
excavator came home from the Holy Land with 
another Sermon on the Mount, though anciently 
there was a chief sub-editor of whom it was said, 

60 




Fleet Street in the 'Nineties and early Nineteen-Hundreds, when 
the horse-bus and the hansom gave it a very human air, and when it 
had " greater freedom and less responsibility " for the wayfaring 
journalist than it has in these clamorous nowadays. 



61 



HERALDS OF A NEW WORLD 

" He wouldn't print even that, unless he found it 
entered beforehand, in the ' Events for the Day.' " 
It would send all its young men by aeroplane to 
Stratford-on-Avon not, perhaps, to resurrect Marie 
Corelli's gondola on the Avon, but if one page of an 
autobiography by William Shakespeare turned up. 
What " news stories " these surprises would be, 
because they would also be additions to the world's 
treasury of knowledge. 

No; it isn't necessarily the immediateness of a 
thing that makes great news, although there is 
always that sort. Suppose that after the Deluge of 
the Old Testament, the Ark had not really come 
to rest on the top of Mount Ararat did it ? but 
on the top of Mount Everest. Suppose, when it 
is eventually conquered, the Ark were found there, 
preserved amid the eternal snows by the eternal 
frosts, what a stir there would be in all the Fleet 
Streets of the world. Moreover, it was from India 
that there had come the great Theosophy " boom " 
of the 'Nineties, with its staggering Mahatmas and 
its intriguing claims to wonders never known on 
land or sea. Now, that tale is like reconstructing 
some Eastern antique, a piece gathered here, fitted 
into a piece gathered there, and the lot glued to- 
gether with Fleet Street's whispered nothings, but 
possibly it can be done. 

62 



SEEKING THE WAY 

A brilliant mind may travel dramatically or it 
may not, but Mrs. Annie Besant, when she said 
good-bye to Secularism, as earlier she had broken 
with Christianity, could not have fancied the queer 
controversy which would spring up. She had, she 
told her Secularist friends, at a meeting which one 
daily paper " starred " on a morning in the 'Nine- 
ties, been given a book to review, and it was by 
Madame Blavatsky. The title was " The Secret 
Doctrine," and the contents were an exposition of 
certain Eastern ideas and beliefs which this Madame 
Blavatsky, of Russian associations, a Colonel Olcott 
of America, and others, had already been proclaim- 
ing to a sceptical and critical Western world. 

The book impressed, nay, captured Mrs. Besant 
to such an extent that she said to herself, " Here's 
the wisdom, the guidance in the eternal things, for 
which I have been searching." Therefore she 
went to Madame Blavatsky, placed herself under 
that amazing woman's tuition, and ended by becom- 
ing a Theosophist. No new doctrine had fallen on 
the earth from heaven, because its catechism was as 
old as the East ; simply it had been brought West, 
and it satisfied the eager, searching spirit of Annie 
Besant. She was then in the intellectual bloom 
of early middle age, grave of mind but bright in 
personality, witty in conversation and arresting in 

63 



HERALDS OF A NEW WORLD 

looks and demeanour. She was slight and English, 
while Madame Blavatsky was heavy and clumsy, 
an elderly woman uncouth to the eye save for her 
impressive head, her face of character and her deep, 
dreamy, withal sinister eyes. 

Those were the personal facts which led to the 
Mahatmas, a discovered name then to the great 
English public, and one which set it by the ears with 
curiosity. Mahatmas were men, in India chiefly 
but elsewhere also, who, by spiritual evolution, had 
lifted themselves far above other humanity. They 
were a brotherhood who had existed for thousands 
of years and who had acquired a body of knowledge 
denied to ordinary men. This knowledge of the 
universe and its elements enabled them, for instance, 
to converse and communicate through space, no 
matter how far the distance might be. But, 
though such super-men, they were still men, these 
Masters or Mahatmas, and living simply in the 
world, not gods of uncertainty; and Mrs. Besant 
gave particular examples of their abnormal powers. 

The stir made by this strange excursion into 
mysterious worlds was such that it might have been 
the fabled Indian magic carpet floating over London. 
Mahatmas could ring bells in the air, when there 
were no bells to ring, and they had been heard to do 
it. They could conjure roses from an Indian garden 

64 



A MAHATMA'S VISIT 



and drop them among people gathered in a near- 
by house. Many strangenesses were theirs to 
command, but they made no miraculous claims 
whatever, nor did they seek adoration or notoriety. 
Just they bespoke a long succession of incarnations, 
each of which had come a little nearer the perfect 
spirituality demanded by Mother Nature for her 
latent secrets. 

Still the wonders grew, and people asked what 
Mahatmas were like to the eye, and how did they 
show themselves ? Colonel Olcott, an old traveller 
in India, said he had seen several, and he described 
a personal visit from one. This Mahatma came 
and touched the Colonel while he was asleep in an 
Indian native camp, and he jumped up and grasped 
the hand which awakened him. He did this 
instinctively, in self-protection, as anybody would, 
roused from sleep in surroundings which implied 
danger. 

" Don't you know me ? " asked a voice in Hindu, 
and Colonel Olcott recognised a Mahatma he had 
seen before in the astral body. He was, of course, 
an Indian, a man of years, with a benignant face, a 
gentle voice, and dignity in his very simplicity. 
They talked, and " When he went away he left 
something in my hand ; a letter written on silken 
cloth," It was meant to be a token of the visit, and 

65 



HERALDS OF A NEW WORLD 

the Colonel cited it to a London which was both 
credulous and incredulous as a proof that there 
really were Mahatmas. 

Their vogue in the news passed, though not the 
name in Western ears, for Mahatma Gandhi has 
given it a new significance in India, What re- 
mained, after Professor Huxley, author of the 
phrase " corybantic Christianity " about Salvation- 
ism, and other scientific men had pooh-poohed the 
whole business ? It was their unqualified day of the 
evolution theory and they would hear nothing which 
would clothe, soften or illumine its stark logic. 
Here was so much nonsense set going by erratic, 
unscientific minds, so many fairy tales, and not 
ingenious ones at that. Take it all away, said 
authority, clearly, definitely, no doubt rightly, and 
away it all went into the darkness from which it had 
come. 

Except, perhaps, a kind of feeling, or instinct, 
such as a sensitive individuality or mass psychology 
does have ; that creation had not yet parted with all 
its secrets, even to modern science and that possibly 
there was something in the ether which the East 
had discovered and the West hadn't. That, and, 
if you say so, nothing more, is worth memorising, 
having regard to what Marconi and companion 
men of genius have now achieved by wireless and 

66 



"FREAKS" AND REALITY 

broadcasting through the ether, supreme marvels of 
this, our new day of revelation. 

Certainly they are more worth having than the 
Siamese Twins, whose notoriety got an occasional 
word of recall in the Fleet Street of the 'Nineties. 
Tom Thumb was another remembered fashion, and 
Barnum, his showman, was still in the land of the 
living and fighting his battles over again in stories. 
There was the one about how he got rid of a tentful 
of spectators, to let in as many waiting outside. 
He made a hole in the canvas, put up a notice, 
" This way for the Egress," and the curious folk 
poured forth to see this strange bird 1 

We dabble no more in human " freaks " and we 
have little truck with sea-serpents and mermaids. 
How could we, in an age when there is a real miracle 
to be recorded any hour ? Is it the speed of a racing 
car, out to break the record ; a flying ship, as big and 
luxurious as a sea liner, sailing above London; or 
the Prince of Wales, homeward bound from an 
African tour, taking breakfast at Marseilles, lunch 
at Paris, and tea with his father and mother at 
Windsor ? 

A Street of Adventure 1 Always Fleet Street 
has been that, for its place in the history of London 
and for its newspapers. Now we have a World of 
Adventure, and the only question with all of us 



HERALDS OP A NEW WORLD 

should, in a persuasive yet challenging moder 
saying, be, " What about it ? " 

There was in the 'Nineties a " Boy Captain, 1 
as he got to be called, who gave a very fine answe 
to the question, when I asked him for the story of th 
Clyde sailing-ship " Trafalgar.' ' His name wa 
William Shotton, he was the son of a sea captain 
and he was only eighteen when he encountered a; 
adventure that Conrad, master of the salt-wate 
romance, could not have beaten as a yarn. 

The " Trafalgar " sailed from Batavia, for Mel 
bourne, in ballast ; the captain had died of Jav 
fever and two men were left ill in hospital ; tw 
others had deserted, so there was now a crew, a! 
told, of twenty-three. The first mate had taken o; 
the captain's job, and there was a new first mate 
a seaman from the foVsle had been made secom 
mate and young Shotton was ranked third mate. 

Unfortunately, the " Trafalgar " carried th 
fever with her ; an able seaman died, then th 
temporary captain and the carpenter, next the firs 
mate and after him the cook. Thus the cre^ 
demoralised by all this, was left with an apprentice 
just out of his time, as the only person who couli 
navigate. But Boy Shotton had been taking hi 
" trick " on the bridge since the " Trafalgar " lei 
Batavia, and he had no doubt he could fetch her t 

68 



THE BOY CAPTAIN 

Melbourne. He held to that, though the men, seeing 
black, wanted him to navigate the ship to the 
nearest port in Australia. 

" Anybody," said he, explaining the human 
situation in which he found himself, " who under- 
stands sailors will also understand their fidgetiness 
and the troubles they made as a result of it. Had 
I, from the foVsle, seen a boy taking the bearings, 
day after day, on the bridge, I think I might myself 
have been uneasy, knowing he was the only frail 
guide on a trackless sea." 

Moreover, all the time, the " Boy Captain " was 
having daily rounds of fever, and when the " Trafal- 
gar " got into Australian latitudes she had rough 
weather, sails blown away and what not. The only 
thing the men could have done without his navigating 
knowledge would have been to bear up for land, any 
land they might happen to strike on the Australian 
Continent, and that would, however it fared with their 
lives, have meant the loss of the ship. As to being 
picked up by another vessel; well, the "Trafalgar" 
sighted nothing until she reached Melbourne. 

The " Boy Captain " took her there all right 
and then came home and got his first " ticket," and 
no doubt he has had other sea thrills since then, 
but nothing could be more " ship shape and Bristol 
fashion " than this " Trafalgar " victory. 



HERALDS OF A NEW WORLD 

should, in a persuasive yet challenging modern 
saying, be, " What about it ? " 

There was in the 'Nineties a " Boy Captain," 
as he got to be called, who gave a very fine answer 
to the question, when I asked him for the story of the 
Clyde sailing-ship " Trafalgar." His name was 
William Shotton, he was the son of a sea captain, 
and he was only eighteen when he encountered an 
adventure that Conrad, master of the salt-water 
romance, could not have beaten as a yarn. 

The " Trafalgar " sailed from Batavia, for Mel- 
bourne, in ballast ; the captain had died of Java 
fever and two men were left ill in hospital ; two 
others had deserted, so there was now a crew, all 
told, of twenty-three. The first mate had taken on 
the captain's job, and there was a new first mate ; 
a seaman from the fo'c'sle had been made second 
mate and young Shotton was ranked third mate. 

Unfortunately, the " Trafalgar " carried the 
fever with her ; an able seaman died, then the 
temporary captain and the carpenter, next the first 
mate and after him the cook. Thus the crew, 
demoralised by all this, was left with an apprentice, 
just out of his time, as the only person who could 
navigate. But Boy Shotton had been taking his 
" trick " on the bridge since the " Trafalgar " left 
Batavia, and he had no doubt he could fetch her to 

68 



THE " BOY CAPTAIN 



Melbourne. He held to that, though the men, seeing 
black, wanted him to navigate the ship to the 
nearest port in Australia. 

" Anybody," said he, explaining the human 
situation in which he found himself, " who under- 
stands sailors will also understand their fidgetiness 
and the troubles they made as a result of it. Had 
I, from the fo'c'sle, seen a boy taking the bearings, 
day after day, on the bridge, I think I might myself 
have been uneasy, knowing he was the only frail 
guide on a trackless sea." 

Moreover, all the time, the " Boy Captain " was 
having daily rounds of fever, and when the " Trafal- 
gar " got into Australian latitudes she had rough 
weather, sails blown away and what not. The only 
thing the men could have done without his navigating 
knowledge would have been to bear up for land, any 
land they might happen to strike on the Australian 
Continent, and that would, however it fared with their 
lives, have meant the loss of the ship. As to being 
picked up by another vessel; well, the " Trafalgar" 
sighted nothing until she reached Melbourne. 

The " Boy Captain " took her there all right 
and then came home and got his first " ticket," and 
no doubt he has had other sea thrills since then, 
but nothing could be more " ship shape and Bristol 
fashion " than this " Trafalgar " victory. 

69 



VI. HOW THE HOME FIRES BURN 

A plain and coloured contrast between what was 
and what is, with in-takes about Oscar Wilde* s trial, 
the tragic death of Lionel Johnson, that one-time London 
notoriety Jane Cakebread, and Phil May, the artist. 

SOMEBODY, away back in the long ago, said 
with the double-edged cleverness which 
invites a retort, " But surely the people of 
Fleet Street are the lost tribe." " Nay," 
was the retort, " we are the found tribe as, if you 
wait, you will see in the goodness of progress." We 
have seen, without having to wait unduly, for in 
no sphere of life have more wonders come about 
than in journalism, which links all the other 
wonders to itself. 

The " Fourth Estate " in the realm has risen to 
an influence which even holds counsel and hob-nobs 
with the other three traditional estates, the Lords 
Spiritual, the Lords Temporal and the Commons. 
But those who belong to it, and do its work, remain 
unpretentious socially, brotherly towards each 
other and good fellows. They earn more money 

70 



THE WOMAN'S PART 



than their forerunners, thanks to organisation among 
themselves and to the betterment of wages in 
general, and they have surer, shorter hours, though 
these will always be long enough, having regard to 
the pace. 

Mainly Fleet Street remains a man's street, and 
so must, for it is a land of rough-and-tumble adven- 
ture. A sound body, as well as a sound mind, is 
necessary for it, and indeed the second of these is 
of little use without the carrying machine of the 
first, and women are still the weaker, and so more 
elegant vessels. The woman journalist, however, 
has her essential place, and she fills it with an en- 
gaging quality and a sisterly charm. 

Scots John Knox, if he were in Fleet Street, doing 
a weekly column of Calvinistic Notes in his fire-and- 
brimstone way, would have to apologise for roaring 
his " monstrous regiment of women " slogan, and 
there are Mary Stuarts, without her royal record, 
to whom he would be glad to apologise. Who but 
women could collect the news of women's doings, 
write the stream of gossip about them or edit the 
" Women's Page," without which no daily or even- 
ing paper is complete? That modern world of 
Fleet Street is now their undisputed kingdom, but 
there are women who, seeking no such sheltered 
employment, write challenging special articles, 



HOW THE HOME FIRES BURN 

criticise literature and the drama or sail forth as 
interviewers and reporters. 

At least one woman journalist whom the 
Eighteen-Nineties brought out, could report her 
assignment beside the best men, and she was a 
pioneer in the independent and share-and-share- 
alike attitude which she insisted on towards them. 
If, on some news expedition, it was an affair of 
standing treat, she would claim her turn, while 
refusing the men's whisky-and-soda or whatever 
might be going. 

Now such an occasion could hardly arise, for 
Fleet Street, either at home, or when it goes about 
the country, is almost an abstainer. May be a cock- 
tail before a meal, a glass of wine with it, or a small 
Scotch-and-soda at night time. Nor is the good 
English beer of so many a drinking song neglected, 
but water and mineral waters have washed out the 
Bohemianism of old, and no doubt that is a good 
job, though a wash for anything always means a loss 
in its colour. 

Therefore we have lost a certain colour which 
belonged to our elders, a hail-fellow-well-met com- 
radeship which sprang from the more picturesque 
conditions of their journalism. This splatch of 
the Bohemian sometimes expressed itself in dis- 
tinctive hats and clothes, especially ties, but then 

72 



OSCAR WILDE ON TRIAL 

hadn't Oscar Wilde, sallying from his decorative 
house in artistic Chelsea, been preaching his aesthetic 
gospel for years before he fell at the Old Bailey ? 
He had known Fleet Street at points, though he 
was the poet and the dramatist, and thus his trial was 
no distant affair to it, but that of a familiar character. 

The trouble about it, as one came later to learn, 
was just how, in a more reticent age than this, to 
report it, having regard to its character. There, 
in the dock at the Old Bailey, was a handsome and 
brilliant man, known by books and plays and 
dandily on platforms, and he was charged with an 
unnameable offence. It was a problem for Fleet 
Street, but a measure of publicity, meeting every 
need yet guarding the sanctities, was, of course, 
found. 

English journalism, even if some folk may think 
the statement a bold one, never fails, in the bulk, to 
do the right thing in the right way. It is the crop 
of a stock, upright and upstanding, which has 
thriven on print and grafted it into the constitution. 
But it is also its own censor, and in this very fact it 
bears a responsibility which does not let freedom 
run into licence. 

With equal human sense, Fleet Street claims some 
Christianity, some large-heartedness for itself, be- 
cause it has its tragedies, as well as its romances, 

73 



HOW THE HOME FIRES BURN 

Could not the pavement stones between St. Bride's 
Church, at its foot, and the Temple Church, near its 
top, tell them in many hard tears ? Broken hopes, 
dead ambitions, bodies gone smash, penury unto 
the borrowing of the classic Fleet Street half-crown ! 
Tom Hood might have made it another " Song 
of the Shirt," for he knew the old Fleet Street well. 
But the worst tragedy of all is when a man of talent, 
or even genius, who might do everlasting work, 
goes out in a mere sideway, as Lionel Johnson did in 
the 'Nineties. 

As it chances, I can tell that tragedy freshly, from 
two sides, because a dear friend, the late Dr. 
Eugene M. Niall, was house-doctor at St. Bartholo- 
mew's Hospital when Johnson was brought in there 
on a stretcher. Here was a delicately built young 
man, with a beautifully shaped head, a refined, 
intellectual face and exquisite hands. He was 
unconscious, for he had fallen from a high stool in 
a Fleet Street tavern, backward on to the sawdusted 
floor, and cracked what an examination showed to 
be a very thin skull. 

His name was brought with him into the casualty 
ward, but at one o'clock in the morning a house- 
doctor and his nurses may not have associated it 
with public authorship. Also Lionel Johnson was 
then hardly known beyond Fleet Street, which 

74 



MOTHER'S LETTER 



faithfully proves its children before certifying them 
for circulation in the great world. It is as exacting 
as a matriarch in discipline and preparation and 
in " midnight oil," and this young man, come by 
an accident, had the retiring temperament of a child 
of letters. 

Moreover, " down-and-outs " of Fleet Street, 
then a recognised and almost an organised company, 
were familiar at " Bart's " as seekers, by various 
tricks, of a night's lodging. Why should one not 
come in on a stretcher ? only, as the house-doctor's 
swift glance showed now, it was somebody who, 
though simply, even roughly, dressed, did not 
belong to the " down-and-outs." 

His pockets were searched for anything that 
might give information about him, and a letter from 
his mother was discovered. It was written fondly, 
almost anxiously, for it said, in so many words, 
" I am sending you a little money, but I cannot 
send any more. What we have already sent you, 
has compelled your father and myself to deny 
ourselves things we need at our age, and we hope 
you will now manage without more help from 
home." That letter became a mother's good-bye 
to a son on which she must have put great expecta- 
tions, for every mother knows what nobody else 
knows. 

75 



HOW THE HOME FIRES BURN 

Poor Lionel Johnson 1 He might have come as 
near being a Charles Lamb as any writer we have had 
in our time, for even his book reviews were deli- 
cious essays. He believed with Lamb that " There 
is more reason for spying grace before a new book 
than before a good dinner. 1 ' He knew, with 
Theodore Parker, that " The books which help 
you the most are those which make you think the 
most." Also he had learned enough of Fleet 
Street to wonder, in Christina Rossetti's verse : 

" Does the road wind up hill all the way ? 
Sy to the very end. 

day's journey take the whole, long day ? 
From morn to night, my friend" 

That night he had been in Fleet Street, from his 
lodgings farther west in London, to call at the office 
of a morning paper for which he especially wrote. 
Its Literary Editor, Henry Nevinson, when, hours 
after, he heard of the fall in the tavern, went to St. 
Bartholomew's and identified his friend and con- 
tributor. There never was a chance of recovery, 
and Lionel Johnson merely lingered on a day or two, 
always unconscious, and so he died, a loss to Fleet 
Street, which is proud of his memory. 

It has ever been proud, though often careless, of 

76 



A " JOURNALISTS' CORNER" 

its sons, and it is learning to be proud of its daughters, 
of whom it should not be careless. But where the 
survival of the fittest is necessarily a law, there must 
be a philosophy of suffering. Mother Nature in 
her rawest state is cruel as well as kind, and the 
intensive cultivation of mankind may emphasise 
that streak in new forms. The philosophy of Fleet 
Street is to gather its ninety-and-nine within the 
safety of the fold. There will always be the hun- 
dredth one who stays without, and whose errant 
nature makes for martyrdom, without hope of ever 
being beatified. 

It is a short walk from Fleet Street to St. Paul's 
Cathedral, but the road may be long before a great 
journalist gets buried there, unless he be also a 
Dean, like Dr. Inge. On the way there, however, 
is St. Bride's Church, become, in effect, the church 
of Fleet Street as a newspaper world, and therefore 
of its writing people, when they have a brother to 
mourn and bury. It has its memorials of a few 
men associated with journalism, but why should it 
not have a " Journalists' Corner " as Westminster 
Abbey has a " Poets' Corner " ? The suggestion 
was, I fancy, my own, and it has been talked about, 
and some day, who knows, it may just evolv|jj 
being, as " Poets' Corner " did. 
be a shrine where the weary Fleet 

77 




HOW THE HOME FIRES BURN 

could croon to himself the song of the wounded 
Border knight : 

" ril e'en sit doon and rest a while > 
And then Pll rise and fight again" 

Fleet Street never knew a man more generous, 
more helpful to misfortune, than Phil May, prince 
of black-and-white artists and great humorist ; and 
a tavern incident, in whole contrast to Lionel 
Johnson's tragedy, will illustrate this, Phil had a 
few cronies with him and, as usual, was treating 
everybody, when a tattered, shivering creature 
stuck his head in at the door, with " Can you give 
me a copper, gentlemen ? " Then he opened the 
door, seeing, no doubt, a " Come hither ! " in Phil's 
eye and in the disposition of his hand towards the 
money in his trousers pocket. Next the ragged man 
was speaking of when he was a Fleet Street hand 
himself, most likely a story invented but well told. 

Phil, being interested, began to ask questions, 
though no cross-examiner, and the end of it all was 
that he took off a fine fur coat he was wearing, for 
the time was winter, put it on the man, and sent 
him away both wondering and rejoicing. What 
happened to that coat nobody ever heard, not even 
its former owner, who, when a friend gently remon- 
strated with him, merely said, " Well, the poor devil 

78 



A COLOURFUL ARTIST 

looked so cold." Had he been told, " Of course 
the man will go and sell it," he would probably 
have just answered, " Well, I only hope he'll get 
what it's worth and use the money better than I did 
when I was extravagant enough to buy it." 

Phil May, like other members of his gifted race, 
rather liked striking raiment, and he dressed as 
if he were half-artist, half-jockey. He was fond 
of a horse, and rode well, and his artistic genius 
made him lionised everywhere, especially when he 
once went to America. He bore admiration with 
humility, but he did not like it, even when it came 
sincerely from " black-and-white men," who knew 
him to be a master. The adoration of women, so 
dear to some celebrities, left him completely cold, 
the hardest target it could be up against. 

Many people had the idea that " Phil," as we 
just called him, did his drawings in the few life-lines 
that made them speak to the public. As a matter 
of fact he drew a sketch with as many links in it as 
a spider's web. Then, with equal labour, he scored 
out all this tangled scaffolding, until only the vital 
lines remained. He might have said, following 
Opie, " How do I make my pictures ? Sir, I make 
them with brains and pains." 

He made a life-like sketch of a face with mar- 
vellous quickness, and that was necessary when he 

79 



HOW THE HOME FIRES BURN 

was asked " to do " Jane Cakebread, and I went 
with him to write about her. But who was Jane 
Cakebread ? Phil May knew very well, being 
intensely attracted by " human documents," especi- 
ally London " human documents," 

For years the papers recorded her misdeeds, and 
some of them probably kept the standing heading, 
" Jane Cakebread Again." She was constantly in 
the police courts for being " drunk and disorderly," 
and sometimes, as part of her naughtiness, she would 
assault a policeman, although she never damaged 
one. She was familiar, by name, to every Londoner 
as an " incurable drunkard," and eventually Thomas 
Holmes, police-court missionary and understanding 
man, took her in hand. It was at his home, down on 
the marshes of East London, that Phil May and myself 
interviewed her as a public and enigmatic notoriety. 

He, seeing what a tragic creature she was, at once 
gave her all the money he had, and there she sat, 
jingling the golden sovereigns and leering at him. 
She was old and ugly and bedraggled, but that only 
made her the more interesting to Phil, and we came 
away from her with some fine sketches and some 
strange information imparted to us by Thomas 
Holmes. He told us that Jane was not really a 
drunkard in the ordinary sense, but took a drink of 
whisky or gin, both cheap then, when she could get it. 

80 



HOW THE HOME FIRES BURN 

If she took more than one drink, it had an extra- 
ordinary effect on her, for she became sexually mad. 

She was temporarily a sex lunatic, and the desire 
and impulse behind that were the explanation of her 
doings, including her anger when grave, stately and 
correct London policemen didn't want her arms 
round their necks. Thomas Holmes had her put 
in a home, was himself Christ-like in his care for her, 
and, with declining years, she became less tem- 
pestuous, even when she did have " a glass." To- 
day she would instantly be a subject for " psycho- 
analysis " or some other modern stethoscope of the 
mind and body, and in that case Fleet Street would 
not cry, as it so often did in head-line and poster, 
" Jane Cakebread Again." 

One of Phil May's black-and-white studies of 
her survives, and to look at it, so characteristic of 
his genius for seizing personality, is to recall a story, 
either true or well founded, about him later in Fleet 
Street. He had joined the staff of " Punch," and 
his mothering little wife had taken him from the 
plains of Kensington to live on the heights of 
Hampstead. One night Phil was homeward bound 
there and a friend was seeing him into a cab for the 
journey. " Don't know your new address," said 
the friend. " What is it ? " 

Phil, with his eternal cigar, his aslant nose, and 
82 



WHAT BROWNING WROTE 

his ever-conquering smile, turned a puzzled face 
to the question. " Can't, old chap, on the life of 
me, remember," he said. " But give me a bit of 
chalk and I'll sketch the house on the cab 1 " And 
he would have done so, 

No doubt he got home, somehow, for he had 
friends at every corner of the London he loved so 
well and served so well with his rare genius. He 
knew its enchantment as well as its pathos, as there 
was a clear sense of the poetic behind his black, 
haunting eyes. One could fancy him standing, 
lost in mystery and imagination, before a drawing 
that another, very different, artist, Mr. Felix Mos- 
cheles, once showed me, because Robert Browning 
had christened it " The Isle's Enchantress." 

A sea-nymph asleep in a sea-shell ; two sisters in 
beauty guarding her while she slept ; a wide 
atmosphere of salt waters 1 That was all, and it 
was all very Victorian, and so, possibly, was Brown- 
ing, when, having looked his fill at the painting, he 
sat down and wrote a verse about it which you will 
not find in any of his books only here : 

" Wind-wafted from the sunset > o'er the swell 
Of summer's slumbrous sea, herself asleefa 
Came shoreward in her iridescent shell 
Cradled^ the Isle's Enchantress. Ton now keep 
A drowsy watch beside her> watch her well" 
o 83 




VII. THE IMMORTAL SALVATIONIST 

Some particular conversations, offering fresh) lively 
anecdotage, with General William Booth, whose soul 
goes marching on in the army of Democratic Christianity 
which he dreamt and created, inspired by his wife, 
Catherine Booth. 

CELEBRITY, when you get a M close-up " of 
him, when you look through the windows 
of his being, is nearly always different from 
phat you had expected him to be. Some- 
times he is better, often not so good, but in any case, 
you meet the individual himself, as well as the 
acclaimed celebrity. 

This discovery falls constantly to those who follow 
the calling and calls of Fleet Street. Some wave of 
events throws a man up, an Arthur cast upon the 
Cornish shore by " dark Dimdagel." Perhaps his 
fame is only for the moment, perhaps for the term 
of his natural life, rarely for all time. Anyway, you 
come in as a news-doctor, and a dramatic personal 
experience of the kind arose when General William 
Booth, having created the spiritual Salvation Army, 

84 



"BLOOD AND FIRE 



launched his Darkest England Social Scheme, alsd 
a crusade of many fruits and many echoes. 

Probably he got the name, " Darkest England," 
from the title of Stanley's book of African travels, 
for the General, like Shakespeare, and most other 
characters of force or genius, knew when to borrow 
or adapt. He and his Salvationists had worked out 
a new social reformation, as a needful pendant to 
the fruitful " hot gospelling " they had, for years, 
carried on in the streets and slums of London, and 
in the big provincial cities. 

It was confided to a book, a sort of new Social 
Bible which all the world would know as " Darkest 
England and the Way Out." But all the world was 
already anxious to know, for General Booth and his 
valiant, unselfish soldiers of " blood and fire " were 
masters of advertisement before it had sounded 
elsewhere with its universal modern call. How 
was Fleet Street to obtain details of the scheme, 
because that meant " giving away " the book and 
so spoiling its sale when precious money was 
needed for precious ends ? Salvationism was prac- 
tical, as well as visionary ; it dreamt, but it also 
wanted to do things, to lift the earthly body as 
well as the heavenly soul, and here was another 
stroke in that sense. 

Approaches, suggestions, even, if you like, 

85 



THE IMMORTAL SALVATIONIST 

cajoleries, were made to General Booth that he 
should say something before the appearance of his 
book, in order to satisfy the great public interest. 
He refused as decisively as a Chancellor of the 
Exchequer would refuse to whisper a word about 
a forthcoming Budget. It was a King's Speech 
secrecy, nothing less, and for good reasons, and 
he was going to the country until the book came 
out. 

This situation was sadly discussed one night by 
the editor of a leading London daily which sympa- 
thised with Salvation Army work, and a young mem- 
ber of the staff, who had been his scribe and ambas- 
sador in such sympathy. They parted, resigned to 
the conclusion that no more could be done, but next 
morning the junior very junior person wakened 
with an awakening thought. 

Often ideas come in the morning when they will 
not come in the night, perhaps because originality, 
the most coy inhabitant of the mind, is tired or gone 
asleep. Also they are braver in the morning, when 
the day is very young, and that is only in consonance 
with human nature. 

It was a Saturday, nothing of a day in Fleet 
Street, which has to observe the Jewish Sabbath, or 
let readers go without news on the Monday. Why 
not go to the country for the day ? Better still, why 

86 



THE ONLY WAY 

not, as a last desperate chance, invade General 
Booth in the country. 

He was at Clacton-on-Sea, where his wife, the 
wonderful, spiritual Mother of Salvationism, was 
seriously ill. That meant delicacy as well as deco- 
rum, but, may be, both could be met becomingly by 
understanding tact. It was not like assailing a 
perfect stranger, and the unlikely may be the likely 
in the Street of Adventure. 

So up and away through London to the railway 
station and down through the flat lands of Essex. 
It may, in the words of the song, be " fine to get up 
in the morninV ' if the sun is out and the birds are 
singing. But " it is better to lie in bed " if London 
is clothed in a damp, dank, grey mist, which is an 
evil habit with it at other times of the year than 
winter. Still, if something worth while be on foot, 
this can be faced in the young years and only good 
come of it. 

A nervous pull at the bell of a modest house 
on the outskirts of Clacton ; the sending, by an 
answering maid, of a simple note to General Booth ; 
and then, after a little, a heavy footstep descending 
the stairs to the hall, where youth waited with its 
heart bumping, though even Victorian youth was 
supposed never to be scared. Next there appeared 
a tall, rugged figure, with a face like one of the 

8? 



THE IMMORTAL SALVATIONIST 

Biblical Prophets and a menace in it as severe. The 
long, grey beard seemed to shake in wrath, the 
beaked-nose was twitching, and the tousled head 
of hair suggested a sea in tempest. It was the 
General in cloth slippers, so worn that they would 
hardly follow his feet, and a faded dressing-gown 
which he had thrown over his Salvationist uniform, 
altogether a very angry figure of " Blood and Fire." 

You see, a minister of news has to be prepared for 
any kind of reception when he goes seeking it, if 
it is not thought desirable he should be given it. 
Moreover, the " interview " was not then so familiar 
in English public life as it is now. A notable 
foreigner, Prince Kropotkine, scholar and reformer, 
whom Tsarism banished from Russia, really ex- 
pressed this in a little note he would send from his 
study to his front door, if you called on him without 
an invitation. " Persons," it ran, " desirous to 
interview me are requested to conform with the 
usual laws of politeness and ask me first, in writing, 
whether I wish to be interviewed." That was the 
worst kind of reception, because it left nothing to be 
done, as you did not see your man, and, at least, I 
was now seeing General Booth. 

A voice, deep and moved, was saying, " What's 
this, sir ? What on earth do you mean by invading 
me when you know none better that I refuse to 

88 



PATRIARCH AND PIONEER 

sec you or anybody from Fleet Street. It's it's, 
it's . . . 1 " And he went on like a thunder-storm, 
with lightnings of displeasure crashing and dashing 
all about. Never a word said the invader, knowing 
that a suppliant, yet upright silence, was his only 
possible way through with the Grand Salvationist. 

Presently a faint smile crept into the General's 
eyes, as if he felt he had blamed enough and did not 
want to be quite the Biblical prophet pronouncing a 
Biblical curse. Always his patriarchal air and his 
intense aliveness to the modern spirit, struck me 
as the ideal equipment for his great job. But 
leadership is never leadership without power and 
its dignity, and a heart warming a mind. His 
naturally kind heart was softening him towards 
my invasion, winning him round, and soon, with 
a characteristic swing of his right hand, he, as it 
were, lifted the curse, a blessed relief. 

" Well," he said gently, if not exactly graciously, 
" since you are here, and won't go, I suppose I 
must tell you a little about my ' Darkest England ' 
plans. But please understand it must only be a 
little," and he shook his menacing right hand to 
emphasise that he meant it. 

Next he led the way into a small, plainly furnished 
side-room, and there, walking up and down, his 
head bent in reflection, he expounded his plans for 

89 



THE IMMORTAL SALVATIONIST 

nearly an hour with gesture of body and sonority of 
voice. What were they ? Grave plans, spacious 
plans, human plans, Christ-like plans, difficult 
plans ? Perhaps, but everything greatly worth doing 
was difficult, and that should be the high stimulant 
of human enterprise when it sought to benefit 
humanity. 

If a man became a social wreck and a burden on 
society, it was either his own fault or he was un- 
fortunate in his circumstances. That man should 
be lifted, however he fell, and by material means, 
as well as by spiritual means. If he fell through 
vice, his nature must first be changed, a spiritual 
task ; but if he was the victim of his surroundings, 
he must be isolated from them. Our social system 
seemed to work wrongly, for did a policeman, 
when he caught a thief by the scruff of the neck, 
think of reforming him ? No. Of punishing him ? 
Certainly. Of correcting him perhaps ; but not 
of converting him permanently into a worthy citizen. 

The General had always reckoned he could save 
any man in a religious sense, unless he was a con- 
firmed loafer. Now he was convinced that, by 
social and spiritual healing combined, he could 
reclaim even the worst loafer. Altogether, the 
Darkest England Scheme meant new methods, 
more direct methods, wiser methods, more human 

90 




Sport and General. 

General Booth, Creator of the Salvation Army 



THE COURAGE OF FAITH 

methods with the outcast, the derelict and the 
unfortunate. It was not a Utopian dream, but a 
reality planned for realities, and its parable was : 

" Don't throw a mere fragment of bread on a sea 
of trouble, but go forth and chart that sea, and with 
mankind's help and God's blessing there would be 
a rich, rewarding harvest." 

So and so spoke General Booth to an audience of 
one, for he was aflame with the ideals and possi- 
bilities of his social campaign. At the door he said 
" Good-bye," and while he stood for a moment, the 
sun shone on his striking grey head and illumined 
his face of rare character. His talk made a long, 
unexpected Monday-morning " special " in Fleet 
Street, and later there came a personal copy of the 
book, " Darkest England, from him, in which he 
had written, " With faith in the future William 
Booth." There I read his social battle-cry and my 
own forgiveness, and perhaps something more, for 
many other meetings followed with the Great 
Salvationist. 

Some of them carried conversations on original 
things worth knowing about the army of " blood 
and fire." Out of what, precisely, sprang the name 
The Salvation Army? While the General was 
engaged in his earlier Christian Mission, the Rifle 
Volunteer Movement was large in public interest. 



THE IMMORTAL SALVATIONIST 

That caused one of his lieutenants, Commissioner 
Railton, to write, " The Christian Mission is a 
Volunteer Army/ 1 " I looked over his shoulders 
for a minute/' said General Booth, " and then drew 
my pencil through * Volunteer ' and wrote * Salva- 
tion, 1 and we were christened for ever, * The Salva- 
tion Army/ " 

What about the uniform and the motto, " Blood 
and Fire " ? He thought Salvationists should have 
some uniform, so they could recognise each other 
when they met. Red meant revolution, and they 
were out to revolutionise the world by saving it for 
Christ. Blue was typical of holiness, and yellow 
of the purifying power of fire. " Blood," in the 
motto, stood for the Blood of Christ, while " Fire " 
meant the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit. 

The General retorted with a flashing eye on those 
who, in its early days, charged the Salvation Army 
with " vulgarising religion," especially by its music. 
The Hindu was attracted to religious exercises by 
the tom-tom, the American negro by the drum. 
Play Mozart to the hungry wastrels of East London, 
and they would neither appreciate him nor be led 
by him to prayer. The Salvation Army played the 
music of the common people, and the common 
people had listened to it. 

A claim he often made, and liked to make, partly 
92 



HUSBAND AND WIFE 

perhaps because it was a tribute to his beloved wife, 
was that the Salvation Army was really the pioneer 
in emancipating the modern woman. His wife had 
much to do with the place women, from the first, 
occupied within the Salvationist ranks. " When we 
were courting/' he said shyly, beautifully, " I used 
to tell her that a woman had most in her heart but 
a man most in his brain." She would laughingly 
accept the first statement but refuse the second, 
and I became as enthusiastic as she was for the 
emancipation of women, as we all clumsily called 
the movement." 

The " Mother of the Army " was also its " Lady 
of the Lamp " to her husband, and their married 
life was ideal in private happiness and public work. 
Their human and spiritual patriotism encompassed 
their own household, their own country, and the 
whole race of mankind. She had a womanly gift 
of sympathy which Oliver Wendell Holmes might 
have been describing when he wrote about himself 
in a letter that has only recently come to light. 

" I have often," he said, " found that, in opening 
my own heart, I have opened another I little thought 
of reaching. Sometimes ... I have written with 
tears in my eyes, and then I have found, what Horace 
told so long ago, that I made them find their way 
from beneath other lids." 

93 



THE IMMORTAL SALVATIONIST 

There were tears that would not keep back in 
General Booth's eyes the day the " Mother of the 
Army " was buried, for her loss was a sore stroke 
to him. But he girded up his loins and went on 
with his mission, which was still to take him to 
many near and far places among the peoples of the 
earth, before he also, like some warrior in the Bible, 
gave up the ghost. 

Once, when he returned from an American visit, 
I went to see him at his home in the north of London, 
and he rolled off his Trans-atlantic impressions. As 
I was leaving, he suddenly got down on his knees, 
saying, " I prayed for every newspaper man I met 
in America, and I'm going to wind up by praying 
for you." 

He did, mentioning me by name, again and again, 
in his invocation to Heaven, and there I stood, 
stupidly, awkwardly, not knowing what to do. 
They were long moments and difficult moments, 
but they were moments which abide with me as a 
living and illuminating flame from the Immortal 
Salvationist* 



94 




VIII. MILESTONES & THEIR MEANING 

Such as the Victorian crinoline and its constant threat 
to return, or the breach-of-promise case and its decline ; 
also weightier ajfairs that bring in personages like 
Henry Labouchere and Cecil Rhodes. 

TOILING hands of mortals ! " says 
^Robert Louis Stevenson, " O wearied 
I feet, travelling you know not whither ! " 
That might be a text for life in Fleet 
Street, where, " When we have discovered a con- 
tinent, or crossed a chain of mountains, it is only to 
find another ocean or another plain upon the further 
side." If it were otherwise it would not be the 
Street of Adventure, either in prosperous times or 
in hazardous times ; and both come, like friends 
and enemies in personal life. 

The something beyond is always the great news, 
because, caught in flight, it has unknown elements, 
far possibilities, which stir the imagination. Or, 
unsuspected but instinctively felt, the same firing 
quality may be hidden in a most common subject or 
object. One test is loudly dramatic, the other 

95 



MILESTONES AND THEIR MEANING 

intimately human, in that everybody is concerned, 
high and low, peer or pauper. 

Is it a battle, where it should not be, like the 
strange one with rascals in East End Sidney Street, 
or a battle about the short and the long of women's 
skirts ? Either combat excites universal interest, 
but the latter may come round half a dozen times 
in the course of years and yet remain interesting. 
What a to-do there was when Victorian dress- 
makers, who had been young with the crinoline, 
tried, when they grew old, to make it fashionable 
again, just as our young women were becoming 
" emancipated " and beginning to think of the vote. 
That controversy rang the same changes of dress as 
we have this day, merely in a rather different key. 

You know the play " Milestones," and that you 
can go back with it on many fashions and customs, 
and yet find the stream of English life steadily 
progressive. Miss To-morrow is apt to sniff and 
look askance at Miss Yesteryear, but under the 
skin they are sisters, apart from fashions and 
mere habits. 

The girl who plays the ukelele to-day or turns 
on the gramophone and moves to it with her 
" dancing partner " is only doing differently what 
her Victorian sister did in shyly consenting to sing 
when, after dinner, the men had come to the 



CRINOLINES AND BUSTLES 

drawing-room. She slowly deposited her fan and 
her gloves somewhere, took off her bracelets and 
her rings and shot her fingers over the piano keys. 
The " butterfly touch " remains in womanly human 
nature, fortunately for everybody, being simply an 
inviting gesture, but now it has, like so many other 
things, become " jazzed.'* 

The vast change is that women speak out and 
are heard, whereas of yore they only whispered and 
were, or were not, heard. Still they wouldn't wear 
the crinoline again or even the bustle which suc- 
ceeded it, an odd tail-piece of dress as useless as the 
appendix in the human body. They would wear 
clothes with the times, for, mind you, the later 
Victorians believed themselves, rightly in culture 
and mentality anyhow, to be mightily advanced. 

How could a woman ride a bicycle, or climb on 
to the top of a London bus, if she wore a crinoline ? 
Not the knife-board bus, certainly, with a steep 
narrow stair leading up to two hard, length-wise 
seats, a general sense of being uncomfortably in the 
air, a look around for something to grip, in case of 
a particularly bad jolt, and the weather-beaten 
driver's assurance, " All right, Miss, I'm strapped 
to my seat, so hang on to me." 

By the way, has a proper specimen of that most 
Cockney and Victorian public vehicle been pre- 
97 



MILESTONES AND THEIR MEANING 

served in any of our national museums ? It out- 
lived the elastic-sided boots of old English tradition, 
and at its birth, it was, at least, as wonderful and 
elegant as they were, but it wasn't as comfortable for 
human flesh and bones, not to speak of nerves, if 
there were any then. Possibly there were, but 
they were apologised for when they occurred, not 
trumped aloud, as an Englishman says, " I have a 
bad liver 1 " to the horror of a Frenchman who says, 
" Oh, my poor stomach 1 " to the horror of an 
Englishman. 

" John Strange Winter/' who wrote " Bootle's 
Baby " and other, in two ways, good Victorian tales, 
was so indignant about the crinoline threat to her 
sex that she proposed an Anti-Crinoline League, 
and gave my enquiring self her reasons. It was all 
the calculated work of those fashionable dress- 
makers, and the men of them rather than the women. 
How absurd it was that a pack of men in Paris, or 
anywhere else, should dictate to women what they 
were to put on, or, as tyrannically, what they were 
not to put on. But there they were, at it again, as, 
for sufficiently evident reasons, they always would 
be at it. 

Peace has now definitely, perhaps, fallen on the 
crinoline, except as a relic for fancy dress, as it has 
fallen on men's lace ruffles and silk knee-breeches, 

98 



ANCIENT AND 

but the sartorial horizon is never certain. There 
were certain signs, "John Strange Winter H ex- 
plained, voicing her generation and its outlook, and 
warning us, which were to be suspected whenever 
Bond Street or the Rue de la Paix said " Crinoline," 

Wide skirts and the chignon fashion of hair- 
dressing were two ; and wasn't the " bun " of the 
'Nineties a move towards the chignon. The modern 
" bob," or shingle, was not then dreamt about, for 
King Solomon's axiom that " A woman's hair is a 
woman's glory " was still a universal acceptance, 
except among the more sensible heathen. 

Anyhow, if women didn't want the crinoline, why 
should they accept it ? To which question there were 
only the answers that reside in the lovely, unknown 
maze of feminine nature. It is a divine land to 
explore, but the wise traveller knows that if he does 
so, he may emerge less sure of his wisdom. 

Who told me that story about Robert Louis 
Stevenson in Samoa, to which he had brought a 
gardener from Sydney, where he printed his Father 
Damien pamphlet, now worth much cash, if you 
have an original copy, with his corrections in blue 
pencil, as I had, until it disappeared ? His mother, 
his wife and his stepdaughter were with him at 
Vailima, and they all took an interest in "the 
grounds," as the Scots words goes, or once went. 
H 99 



MILESTONES AND THEIR MEANING 

Comes the gardener man to him, one day, and 
says, " I think, sir, I'm not a success here, and 
I'll be returning to Sydney." " But why ? " said 
Stevenson, and then, "Ah, I see, too many masters 
I mean mistresses. But, my friend, you understand 
women ? No ; my friend, you don't. No man 
ever understands them quite understands them." 

Certainly a nice woman, a normal woman, hates 
to be odd, and by that she means to be, or seem to 
be, different from other women about her. There- 
fore when mid-Victorian crinolines were the vogue, 
she had to accept them or, " John Strange Winter " 
put it, be thought a " perfect guy." Nay, there 
were folk who actually held them becoming, who 
saw grace in many expanded petticoats, and passion 
in their swing. 

Nonsense 1 Think, again, of the burning acci- 
dents they caused and of their menace to health, 
because the whole weight of the clothes was thrown 
on the waist, and waists were small when whalebone 
corsets were worn. Husbands should reflect on 
that fact and they could not escape another, the 
extra expense their crinolined wives and daughters 
would cause them. 

Dear husbands and fathers ! Have they any 
relief in this year of grace when their women folk 
wear so little and pay so much for it ? 

100 



A WIT OF WESTMINSTER 

Every era has its individual women and men, 
to whom, when any urgent or lively question is on 
the carpet, Fleet Street goes for public advice ; so 
many advisers in ordinary. Henry Labouchere, 
familiarly called " Labby," held such a position, and 
he was always sure to say something pat, if not also 
pert. He was as puckish as Lord Beaverbrook, 
whom he also resembled in that he was a newspaper 
owner, though it was only of a weekly, " Truth," 
which he founded and made a piquant influence, and 
a terror to knaves. 

" Labby " would be found at his house, in Old 
Palace Yard, Westminster, writing personal para- 
graphs and eternally smoking a fat cigarette in a 
holder. He was short and round, with thinning 
grey hair, a closely trimmed beard, keen, beady 
eyes and well-kept clothes which gave him a dapper 
air but left him an arresting and supple personality. 
He knew most things happening in his political 
day, and being an able as well as a popular Radical, 
not only in shoemaking Northampton, for which he 
sat, but throughout the country, everybody won- 
dered why Gladstone did not give him office. 

He, himself, also wondered, and he could be very 
amusing and cynical about the Grand Old Man's 
gesture to him when he was forming his last Govern- 
ment " But, of course, dear Mr. Labouchere, you 

101 



MILESTONES AND THEIR MEANING 

would not think of sacrificing the great influence you 
wield as a private member, as an editor, and as a 
personality, to occupy any office whatsoever. ' ' Such, 
in effect, was the message with which a high-placed 




Gladstone, all eagerness and eloquence, and his old- fashioned collar 
were familiar and characteristic in Victorian cartoons, of which here 
is a fragment by Harry Furniss. 

emissary came to him from the " G.O.M." If 
he would say he did not want to be in the Govern- 
ment but under the gangway, then the " G.O.M. " 
would always consult him on public matters. 
This was " Labby's " account of what happened, 
given as a little personal note on Gladstone's diffi- 
culties in Cabinet making, he, himself, according 
to the emissary, being a chief difficulty. 

It is rememberable that he thought Lord Rosebery, 
1 02 



GRAVE AND GAY 

with whom he was never friendly, against him in 
Gladstone's counsels. Also he understood, what 
was of still more vital moment, that, directly or 
indirectly, Queen Victoria had said she would not 
be pleased to see him in the Cabinet. On all this 
44 Labby's " comment was that he had never sought 
a place in the Government, and that he had never 
asked a Minister, in esse or in posse a characteristic 
Victorian expression for anything. But those were 
grave and lofty matters of other conversations, and 
what concerns us was one about this threatened 
return, very late in Queen Victoria's reign, of the 
mid-Victorian crinoline. 

It is a pity Henry Labouchere did not leave an 
autobiography, for it would be a life-story our young 
people might like. He was modern before his day, 
and yet there was definitely a " date " in his de- 
liverance about the crinoline : 

44 It doesn't seem to me there's any particular 
objection to it in the moderate form, as I remember, 
in which it was first worn. With red or blue skirts 
and Balmoral boots, it made, believe me, a quite 
pretty and artistic costume. Not merely that, but 
the original crinoline was very useful for keeping a 
woman's skirts out of the gutter and allowing her 
freedom to walk. Also it was economical, in the 
way that it permitted so many changes, a red 

103 



MILESTONES AND THEIR MEANING 

petticoat or a blue one, a dark zouave jacket or a 
light one, and so on." 

Ever there was a quizzical twinkle in M Labby's " 
eye, the signal for sparkle in his conversation, and 
his " wisdom while you wait " got him playfully 
called the Sage of Palace Yard. He could discourse 
divertingly on most subjects, sprinkling his talk 
with spice, as, " Might I suggest one trouble about 
the crinoline in any form ? It reveals the feet, and so 
many English women have big feet." He would 
find them very revealed, big or little, in our latest age 
of women's fashions, but he would also notice what 
elegance silk stockings and smart shoes can achieve. 

Much in contrast to Henry Labouchere was 
another Victorian, several times met, Cecil Rhodes, 
who resembled the " Iron Duke " in that he had no 
small talk. He could be spoken with on South 
Africa, where he was " The Colossus," or on 
Imperial questions generally, but not the most 
daring spirit in Fleet Street would have approached 
him about crinolines, or his own clothes. He was, 
like Kitchener kter, supposed to be a " woman- 
hater," though in both cases it probably was not 
true. One cites the story of somebody who said, 
" A woman-hater what's that ? Oh, I know, a man 
who has had no mother " ; which reduced the thing 
to nonsense. 

104 



A THINKER IN CONTINENTS 

Rhodes was notoriously careless about his clothes, 
and for a tall, well-set-up, handsome man, that was 
to throw away an advantage, with women anyhow. 
At home, in Cape Town, some intimate friend, 
meeting him in the street, would say, " My dear 
Rhodes, but this suit of yours is threadbare, and 
really you must get some new clothes." "All 
right," he would answer ; " you are going to London 
soon and you know my tailor ask him to send me a 
batch." 

He never knew his own hat, and he would take 
anything from a rack and stick it upon his head, 
provided it was big enough to stay there. Sound 
worldly wisdom came from that head, when Rhodes, 
being asked, after the Jameson Raid, to resign some 
office, cabled : " Let resignation wait." It might 
be a motto on any hasty man's writing-table, because 
observance of it not only " gives to think," as the 
French say, but also gives time to think. 

Clothes and the woman ! Arms and the man ! 
They have, in their working out, brought much 
grist to the mills of Fleet Street, for many innocent 
or ignorant folk think of it in that material fashion. 
44 Oh," say they, " the papers only publish what will 
sell them," but it isn't really like that. When 
Colonel Lindbergh, without saying a word about 
it, flew the Atlantic alone, he made fine " copy," 

105 



MILESTONES AND THEIR MEANING 

but he likewise made a milestone in the history of 
aviation. The value of news is largely a question 
of its fitting into the moment, as anybody can per- 




A London artist's impression of the famous Norwegian explorer, 
when, as a young man, he was seeking the perilous secrets of the White 
Arctic in his good ship " Fram," and getting " Farthest North" 

ceive by recalling a once prevalent " heading," 
" Nansen and the North." 

He was going after the Arctic when it was an 
almost unknown land to us and therefore rich with 
all sort of perils and possible discoveries. Now 
explorers have been to both Poles, and a noteworthy 

1 06 



EXPLORATORY 1 

thing is that Scott's last journey in the Antarctic is 
probably more impressed on the world's mind than 
any other man's Arctic or Antarctic achievements, 
simply because it was so tragic and so heroic. 
" Nansen and the North " would not, with our fuller 
knowledge of the Arctic, animate the posters of the 
new Fleet Street, but another Scott adventure would 
be another epic. His conquering of the South Pole, 
only to find Amundsen had anticipated him ; the 
walking out into the blizzard of one of his colleagues, 
that the others might survive ; the final tragedy and 
Scott's diaries ah, it was, and remains, an epic of 
very splendid adventure. 

Unheroic things are apt to die, and we may see an 
example of this in the comparative absence now, 
from the newspapers, of breaches of promise. 
Aforetime love-letters, produced as evidence and 
read in court, took up columns, which people who 
knew the parties read with a chuckle, human nature 
being what it is. Slapping damages were often 
given for lost coronets and broken hearts, whereas 
we may now hear any day that the engagement 
between Mr. So and So and Miss Don't You Know 
has been cancelled. 

That takes us back to a period when love and 
marriage were regarded as the only outlet for a 
woman's life, and so she must have the protection of 

107 



MILESTONES AND THEIR MEANING 

the law for them. But even the Victorian prudent 
man and prudish woman questioned the need for 
breach-of-promise actions, and there was a contro- 
versy about changing the law which makes them 
possible. The pros and cons of the subject ran up 
and down the country on wings which, as modern 
thought goes, would merely flutter the message : 
" Engaged. Oh, yes, but if, later, we think the 
marriage won't do, why, we'll just say so to each 
other, and end the affair." 

There was long precedent for the breach-of- 
promise action, which, of course, any of you can 
still bring if you have the courage to face a mocking 
modern generation. It existed, as came out in 
newspaper discussion, so far back as the reign of 
Charles I, and it was just like a Royal Stuart to think 
of a broken heart afterwards ! Or, may be, at 
that gay time ladies had to be protected from 
" designing men," but think of healing a wounded 
heart with pounds sterling ! European countries 
thought it one of John Bull's little eccentricities and, 
indeed, quoted it to prove him unromantic. 

But great lawyers argued it fair and well, where 
there had been pecuniary loss, not otherwise, and, 
English-like, we just went on to another topic of 
talk. Thus controversy may again leap up about 
" breach/' half-dead legal institution though it be, 

108 



POETRY OF SENTIMENT 

and, in that case, Fleet Street will do its duty of 
publicity and guidance, saying the while : 

" / tell the things I know, the things I knew. 
Before I knew them, immemorially" 

It may not be enough to do that only, for there 
are many suggestive and deductive minds in the 
region between Chancery Lane and Ludgate Hill. 
Why not an article to prove an association between 
the going out of the breach-of-promise case and the 
going out of the " Poets' Corner " in the weekly 
newspapers ? The Victorians liked that corner and 
kept it full, but an " Ode to Phyllis " nowadays 
would only anger her, and perhaps cause her to ring 
up the editor, demanding, " Why, sir, waste your 
space on that silly sentiment when I want to find 
something entirely fresh in lip-sticks, and where, 
besides the Monte Carlo and Lido beaches, I can 
comfortably kipper my skin in the sun." 

Happily the ode, or something else in sentimental 
verse, cannot be quite dead, however low its vogue 
and quality have fallen, for not long ago a president 
of a local Byron Society wanted a London publisher 
to publish a " little thing of mine " ; and lo, it 
began : 

" When gladsome spring doth ope the rose, 
Who will with kerchief close his nose ? " 
109 



MILESTONES AND THEIR MEANING 

That brings back the terrible moment a certain 
London literary editor had when Swinburne died, 
and a lesser, but well-established, English poet sent 
in an ode to his memory, for appearance in next 
day's paper. It opened with these lines : 

" And is it true that he has gone 
From Putney Hill to Helicon ? " 

No, this ode did not get into print, but went back 
to the distinguished author, with a letter more 
ingenious and inventive of excuses than most 
editorial epistles. Perhaps it was only, Swinburne 
being dead, that the other poet had nodded for a 
moment, as even a Homer sometimes will. 



no 




IX. MEET NOTABLE AMERICANS 1 

George W* Smalley, a pioneer ambassador of Trans- 
atlantic news ; Mark Twain, humorist to the world> 
grave man really ; John Hay and stories of Lincoln^ 
whom he knew well ; George Haven Putnam and 
Henry White. 

ROB ABLY no place-name is more familiar to 
1 all the world than Fleet Street, unless it 
be, a picturesque contrast, Monte Carlo. It 
means " news from home " to the English- 
speaking peoples oversea, and that gives it a tender- 
ness, perhaps even to our cousins of America. 

This cousinship is millions of population more 
distant than it was when the Great Republic struck 
apart, a proof in itself that here was a " chip of the 
old block." But never was America, through its 
newspapers, so firmly in Fleet Street as it is to-day, 
when the deep-sea cables, the high-heavens " wire- 
less " and the ocean telephone are rivals as bearers 
of tidings, good and bad. 

Hands across the Atlantic ! That means, first 
and foremost, news across the Atlantic, otherwise 

in 



MEET NOTABLE AMERICANS ! 

there would not be the mutual knowledge which 
cements a hand-grip. An early builder of that 
great link was George W. Smalley, who, in the 
Eighteen-Nineties, was London Correspondent of 
the journal made famous in American history by 
Horace Greeley. He went back to America, 
accredited to be a like ambassador between it and 
us, making it known to Fleet Street, as he had made 
us known from Fleet Street ; and that meant a 
worth-while good-bye talk. 

It was an odd shock to find him, in appearance, 
curiously like an English coachman of the Victorian 
age, with, of course, every difference the moment 
he spoke. He was shaved bare, apart from splashes 
of close-cropped, darkish-grey hair, coming down 
to the end of the ear on each side of the face. That 
grooming was completed by a sharp-edged stand-up 
collar and a square-shaped tie, which even had the 
necessary pin, as large as a sixpence. It all gave 
you the impression of a man who had been fashioned 
in a horse-loving English shire and had never taken 
the trouble, or had been too busy, to make any 
change on himself. 

Smalley, like his friend Henry James, had, as a 
result of his long residence here, become " English, 
quite English, you know,'* in some ways, but the 
American fabric of character remained. He was a 

112 



THUS THE WONDER GREW ! 

fine, cultured example of the real, enduring spiritual 
and intellectual kinship of the Briton and the older 
American. Further, he was a witness to the con- 
stant growth, in his and our time, of that kinship, 
something better than any mere blood cousinship. 
Still further, he had a pretty story, gathered from 
his own experience, which he would tell in illustra- 
tion of cousinly Anglo-Americanism. 

He came to England in 1866, when America had 
still the embers of its great Civil War, and he came 
to let his countrymen know about the Austro- 
Prussian War, which ended with Sadowa. When 
he reached Queenstown, then and later a place of 
great importance in Transatlantic traffic, he heard 
of Austria's crushing defeat and Bismarck's history- 
shaping victory. Thus there was no war news for 
him to handle, but he realised what could be done 
here in the general collection of European news for 
America. He established a bureau for his paper, 
so starting the modern, big American news trail in 
Fleet Street, and, settling down in London, he 
wanted a furnished house. 

An entry in one agent's list greatly tickled him, 
because, after giving particulars of a likely place, it 
said, warningly and with the patronisingly menace 
of a certain type of English nature, happily not so 
prevalent as it was, " No dogs or foreigners." 

"3 



MEET NOTABLE AMERICANS 1 

Ah," he said, " I'm afraid I'm not eligible for 
it " ; to which the agent answered, " Dear me, 
you're not a foreigner, you're an American. An 
American is never a foreigner in England." He 
found that, and as for English prejudices 
why not ? " A good healthy prejudice I like 
it ; it is part of the strength of the English 
people." 

Smalley was a natural diplomat, like every good 
journalist, and he was a sound contemporary his- 
torian, for, said he, " The rapid, orderly march of 
democracy has been the outstanding phase of 
English national life in the final Victorian epoch." 
He had also, one recalls, a conversational gift for 
the picturesque, like the remark, " England lends 
itself to pageant. In America, only the mountains 
and rivers are old." 

When a still more famous American, Mark 
Twain, came to Oxford for his honorary degree, the 
old-world ceremony attending it pleased him almost 
as much as the tribute itself. He was, at sight, a 
picturesque figure, with his loose, yet graceful, body, 
his colourful and easy-fitting clothes, his kindly face, 
his heavy, grey moustache, his clear, light eyes and 
his surmounting soft felt or Panama hat. So he 
loved the gowns and the hats and the Latin orations 
of Oxford, and that day, in the old university town, 

114 



Att 

was one of the happiest, as it was one of the proudest, 
in his whole life. Also, according to precedent ! 

For he began it by saluting a gardener who was 
rolling a college lawn and asking, " How do you 
manage to get God's billiard-tables like this ? " 
" Well," was the droned-out answer, " we begins 




Mark Twain, the famous American writer, who liked London and 
British folk and came here when he could ; for one thing that we might 
know him as a thinker ; not only a as world?* humorist. 

hundreds of years ago, and we cuts close and we rolls 
heavy and steady. We cuts and rolls, and we rolls 
and cuts and we keeps cuttin' and rollin', as I'm 
rollin' ; and that's how we gets 'em, sir.' 1 

Mark Twain did not say this story was exag- 
gerated, as, traditionally, he said that a report of 
his death was exaggerated. Nor did he, as apposite 
in another strain, cite the Chestertonian theory of 
the "rolling English road," and indeed he said 
i 115 



MEET NOTABLE AMERICANS 1 

very little, even when he was put to the question. 
He was most natural and best when talking 
"off his own bat," without let or hindrance, 
though he could always be a silent and apprecia- 
tive listener. 

Old Andrew Chatto, who published many of 
Mark Twain's books in this country, once gave a 
lunch in token of their good friendship. It took 
place in a room over the then Chatto office and was 
quite informal, of the chop-and-cheese order, but 
delightfully interesting to those of us who were 
guests. Mark ate little, soon had his familiar corn- 
cob pipe going, and with it moved into an arm-chair 
in a corner of the room. There he smoked and 
talked about things great and small, for a couple 
of hours, and he was " left sitting " and talking, like 
the House of Commons. 

One of Mark Twain's texts, the outcome, perhaps, 
of a remark by one of us, was the difficulty of com- 
porting himself in this world as an established 
humorist, while he was naturally a man of gravity. 
He was that by temperament and demeanour, and 
the death of his wife was an abiding sorrow which 
emphasised his sombriety of spirit and sent it 
questing in other spheres. 

Perhaps Samuel L. Clemens would have liked 
posterity to value him for his serious writings 

116 



A MISSISSIPPI HERO 

rather than for his humour as Mark Twain. He 
thus, in a contrasting literary way, resembled our 
Thomas Hardy, who esteemed his " Dynasts " and 
the other poetry of his later years more than he did 
his famous novels of Wessex. May be the public 
view is usually sounder than the self-view, because 
it is impartial, and certainly it is so when it becomes 
the verdict of time and every man. 

Colonel John Hay, the author of " Jim Bludso," 
had a little anecdote which linked Mark Twain and 
that spirited poem. " My old friend," he said in 
his room as American Ambassador here, " has 
always declared that there's a line in my poem which 
isn't good seamanship, or should we say riverman- 
ship ? Now Mark was once a Mississippi pilot and 
ought to know, but I have refused to admit his 
authority, because that would mean rewriting a 
verse, which Pm not going to do." He laughed 
and I understood, for he was not defiant of his 
friend's expert counsel, but hateful, like all writers, 
of going back on a job that has once been done and 
should be done with. 

That talk with John Hay, among many talks 
when he was in London, is not easy to recall in 
detail, and though he spoke the questioned line, its 
words remain vague in one's memory. A consulta- 
tion of the poem in a delightful English edition of 

117 



MEET NOTABLE AMERICANS 1 

his verse, which appeared while he was in London, 
suggests, however, that it was probably this : 

" Fll hold her nozzle agin 9 the bank 
Till the last galoot's ashore." 

Could Jim Bludso do that with the " Prairie Bell," 
or any other boat in trouble, on a river so swift and 
powerful as the Mississippi ? Evidently Mark 
Twain, who was supposed to have taken his pen- 
name from that cry of the Mississippi pilots, 
thought it not possible, but allowed poetic licence 
to his old comrade. 

Hay had read greatly and could quote happily, 
as when, being asked, on leaving London, " Aren't 
you sorry to go ? " he replied, " You know Samuel 
Johnson 's c The man who is tired of London is tired 
of life/ " He also had a rich fund of anecdotage, 
much of it come of his own experiences, and some 
of it about that greatest of Americans, Abraham 
Lincoln. As a young man Hay had been one of 
Lincoln's secretaries, and after his death he was his 
joint-biographer. A Lincoln incident which he 
recalled on a morning that a Fleet Street wayfarer 
walked in on him, can hardly be in any biography. 

Very important news was expected at the White 
House from General Grant, the result of a battle, 

118 



LINCOLN AND A QUOTATION 

or of a critical move in the American Civil War. 
President Lincoln sat up waiting for it, and young 
Hay sat up with him, in case he should be needed, 
and others were of the company. There was 
general talk and particular talk, and out of something 
sprang a verse quotation which nobody could locate 
to its author. Search was made in books and 
reference books, without result, and then, when it 
was very late, and no dispatch had come from 
General Grant, everybody went to bed. 

John Hay had hardly fallen asleep when there 
was a knock at his door, a fumbling at the handle, 
and next the appearance of a large, lean hand carry- 
ing a lighted candle. Presently a long, lanky 
figure, wearing a too short, white night-shirt, came 
through the door with an open book in its other 
hand. This was Abraham Lincoln, undefeatable 
even in tracking down a quotation, for " Damn it, 
Hay, I've found it," said he, flourishing the volume. 
He turned the candle-light on the open page of the 
book, read the verse in triumph, and marched off to 
his own quarters, while Hay probably whispered to 
himself, " Well, that's the most remarkable literary 
ghost I'll ever see." 

One has another fresh and good Lincoln story 
which probably came from John Hay, but may not, 
because while records in print can always be checked, 

119 



MEET NOTABLE AMERICANS ! 

those of the mind cannot. It must therefore 
speak for itself, and it can well do that, if only for its 
dramatic domestic interest. It brings in Mrs, 
Abraham Lincoln, who, as history whispers, didn't 
always say ditto to the President, there resembling 
Martha Washington and her English-like Gentle- 
man George. 

Between them those two ladies may have planted 
the seed of independence, which is to-day typical 
of the American woman, only a President, deep in 
some immediate affair of state, might not be think- 
ing of that. At all events, it was dinner-time at 
the White House, and no doubt it dined then in 
the day-time, as was the early Victorian custom 
here, not at night. Lincoln had an important 
conference or a necessary piece of work to finish, 
and he forgot whatever announcement was 
equivalent to an English butler's " Dinner is 
served ! " 

Soon Mrs. " Abe " appeared to remind him, and, 
as he still lingered, talking or writing, she returned 
a second time and, perhaps, said what might be 
expected from a wife who knew the dinner was 
being ruined. Without a word, the six-foot Lin- 
coln rose, lifted her from the floor in his strong arms, 
carried her outside the room, set her down in the 
corridor, re-entered and shut the door ; one more 

1 20 



THE GETTYSBURG ORATION 

example of the natural truth that great men may, 
on occasion, make impatient husbands. 

But he was not impatient as a rule, on the con- 
trary lamb-like, the records declare, with his 
somewhat shrewish Mary Todd and her scorching 
tongue. True, there is the anecdote of a boy asking 
him, when he was dressing for his wedding, " Where 
are you going ? " and being answered, " To hell, 
I suppose." But there is also the other story of a 
friend complaining of Mrs. Lincoln's tongue, and 
her husband's comment : " I am sorry, but cannot 
you endure, for a few moments, what I have had for 
my portion these fifteen years ? " 

John Hay venerated Abraham Lincoln and would 
cite the famous oration at Gettysburg and its brief 
preparation, as an example of his fine thought, 
austere language and true eloquence. It was out- 
lined hurriedly in a train on scraps of paper, as the 
President was travelling to Gettysburg to deliver it. 
What became of those scraps of paper ? They 
would be worth a king's ransom to-day, when 
Lincoln has taken his place among the dozen 
greatest men of world history. 

Another direct link with Abraham Lincoln, and 
one even more intimate to Fleet Street than Colonel 
John Hay, was George Haven Putnam, publisher, 
man of letters and delightful gentleman. If ever 

121 



MEET NOTABLE AMERICANS ! 

there was an Ambassador of Letters between 
America and England it was he, for hardly a year 
passed, over half a century of time, without a visit 
on his part to London. 

" Naturally," he remarked to me with his gentle 
smile, "for I was actually born in London, my 
parents being then resident here. At twenty-one 
I had the right to say whether I'd be an American 
citizen or a British subject. As it happened, I was 
in Libby Prison that birthday, having been captured 
by the Confederates, in our Civil War, and I quite 
forgot about the matter," But all his life he was a 
devoted friend of England and English literature 
and a rare champion of Anglo-American copyright. 
The Oxford honorary degree, conferred on him, as 
on Mark Twain, and other eminent Americans, 
was thus a most fitting imprint of our recognition 
and regard. 

During what proved to be his last visit to London, 
George Haven Putnam took me with him to 
lunch at the urbane, dignified Athenaeum Club. 
" Choose what you will," said he, " but as for me, 
I am more than eighty, so I must take heed what I 
eat. Moreover, before I left America, I securely 
locked up the set of false teeth which my family 
thought becoming to my age 1 " 

A lunch thus begun was bound to be amusing, 
122 



SINCERITY AND SALT WATER 

even at the Athenaeum, to which, as an unauthenti- 
cated story tells, a page-boy once went from the 
Sports Club. He returned in a week, seeking his 
old job again, and when asked why, said, " There 
ain't no fights down there on Sundays only 
bishops 1 " George Haven Putnam smiled over 
that tale and went on to talk of many things, for his 
mind was rich in memories and knowledge, and he 
had a crisp sense of humour. 

One of his amusing anecdotes had to do with 
Mrs, Florence Barclay, the author of " The 
Rosary" and other popular stories, when she 
visited her publishers and friends, the Putnams, in 
America. They were all staying at the sea-side, 
and bathing came into the programme, and Mrs. 
Barclay said she would like to swim with the others. 
Not knowing whether she was anything of a swim- 
mer, and anxious she should run no risk, George 
Haven thought he would come along with the 
party as a sort of emergency escort and life-saving 
man. 

He had just got into his bathing suit, prepara- 
tory for the part, when he saw Mrs. Barclay plunge 
into the sea and strike out strongly, waving her 
hand as much as to say, " Won't you come with me 
for a real swim, right out ? " " She was a splendid 
swimmer," said he, " and it was a very humble 

123 



MEET NOTABLE AMERICANS ! 

water knight who was left lamenting on the beach, 
but we all laughed over the little comedy." 

There are particular Americans, as there are 
particular Britons, whose names should live, apart 
from their other achievements, for what they have 
done to maintain and stimulate the fraternity of the 
two countries as a guiding force in modern civilisa- 
tion. Undoubtedly George Haven Putnam ranks 
among them, though, of course, in a different way 
from American Ministers and Ambassadors to 
London, like Russell Lowell, Phelps, Bayard, John 
Hay or Choate. It was Choate who ranked 
another man with them when he said, "Henry 
White keeps an American diplomatic school in 
London where he trains green ambassadors." 

For ever so many years Henry White was First 
Secretary to the American Ambassadors, and he 
might almost be described as the first regular diplo- 
mat, as distinguished from politicians and statesmen, 
of the American Republic. Later in life he was 
Ambassador for his country on the Continent, 
especially in Paris, where, as in London, he had 
troops of friends, and he wound up his service on 
the American delegation to the Versailles Confer- 
ence. He had a born gift for diplomacy, but 
President Taft, when he came to office, put a spoke 
in it, and there is an odd story attached to that. 

124 



JUDGE AND PRESIDENT 

Earlier Judge Taft, as he then was, and Mrs. 
Taft were in London, and they wanted to hear an 
important debate in the House of Commons. It 
was not, apparently, possible to get tickets of admis- 
sion, and instead Henry White sent them permits 
to visit the Royal Stables at Buckingham Palace ! 
Very innocently, no doubt, desirous only to be help- 
ful somehow, as the other thing could not be 
managed, but, so the story goes, Taft took the 
happening as an affront and, at the White House, 
remembered it. 

May be it is just a tale, for President Taft was a 
big man, in character as well as a giant, physically, 
in girth and weight. Thanks to James Bryce, when 
he was British Ambassador to America, I saw him 
at Washington, hopeful of getting something to 
write about. But he turned questioner, asked me 
all about the London papers and then said a most 
friendly " Good morning." It was a blazing hot 
forenoon, and I wondered how, with his many- 
stoned stoutness, he could be so cool and keen. 
Somebody afterwards told me that he overcame the 
heat by having an ice-box under his great arm-chair, 
but that also may have been only a yarn. 



125 




X. THE MAN BEHIND THE VEIL 

Real human nature hidden under the trappings of 
public life; here caught in small-talk of Joseph 
Chamberlain as " Joe," the Premier Earl of Rosebery 
as Scotland's darling and the Earl of Balfour as himself. 

NE often hears the remark, " Oh, we have 
jno great statesmen nowadays," and gener- 
' ally it is made by elderly people. Naturally, 
because they remember the Gladstones and 
the Beaconsfields, and their esquires the Roseberys 
and the Balfours, as an earlier generation remem- 
bered the Palmerstons and the Peels. 

Is it that fewer men are born to be great in states- 
manship, that the necessary gifts are different and 
less monumental, or that, in a swifter era and a more 
crowded arena, individual stature cannot assert 
itself, particularly if the general standard of in- 
tellectual life is far higher ? Verbal chronicles 
handed down in Fleet Street about Palmerston and 
Peel suggest that, as robust minds and strong 
characters, they were advantageously set in the 
picturesqueness of the hustings. No doubt 

126 



NO GRAVEN IMAGES 

" Dizzy," in his young days, also suited the same 
stage because he was dramatic in temperament and 
florid in costume, a natural actor, with the world 
for audience. 

What a pity that half a dozen Fleet Street men 
who had grown old in the Eighteen-Nineties and 
older when the Nineteen-Hundreds came, did not 
sit down together and write their experiences of mid- 
Victorian times. They could have made a wonder- 
ful " Noctes Ambrosianae " from the historical 
materials they had worked among, and now and 
then they did let fall a surprising tale or a humorous 
anecdote. But Fleet Street is essentially the record- 
ing angel of the passing hour, and its practitioners 
catch that atmosphere and let bygones be bygones. 

The big, outer world therefore gets from it no 
tablets graven with Victorian or other images, and 
indeed a will-o'-the-wisp, with a hand-to-mouth 
circulation, is the right, exquisite thing ; a Peter 
Pan spirit in a kingdom of print. Ghosts of other 
kinds have been known there and have been " laid," 
but who would shackle this silent voice of one age 
carrying into another, life and death on the march ? 
For Fleet Street has also had its incarnations and, 
if you please, its reincarnations. 

Statesmen of the stiffish period when Victorians 
were becoming Edwardians could hardly, perhaps, 

127 



THE MAN BEHIND THE VEIL 

be expected to know that, and post-war statesmen 
have themselves been too busy writing newspaper 
articles to make the discovery. A sharp contrast 
and a sharp corner here, because once on a time a 
responsible statesman must not know Fleet Street, 
or he would be thought undignified, even indiscreet ; 
while now a statesman, out of his own job, turns 
to Fleet Street and journalism, though that phase 
of " Name, please ? " as the recommendation of 
articles, has sensibly abated. 

Always, however, the powerful statesman and the 
powerful editor, be they who they might be, have 
ploughed the same furrow, public opinion, and 
therefore they have signalled to each other from the 
turrets of Whitehall and Fleet Street. Apart from 
that, there has been the necessary traffic between the 
man of action in national affairs and the plain 
journalist engaged in his work, and personal im- 
pressions and anecdotage have thus been garnered. 

For example, the clean-shaven face and clear-cut 
figure of Joseph Chamberlain, at his prime, are in 
a picture which a certain Fleet Street hand is wont 
to draw from personal memory and, perhaps, 
embellish, for that is in the day's art. When the con- 
flicts around Irish Home Rule were raging, Cham- 
berlain visited the Scottish Highlands and Islands 
seeking light on the Crofter Question. Earlier, at 

128 



A HIGHLAND LAMENT 

Inverness, he had set the heather alight with the 
latent fire of a verse from the " Canadian Boat Song/' 
a touching, haunting coronach of the Scottish High- 
lander banished across the Atlantic, so that sheep 
and deer might tenant his native hills : 

" From the lone shieling on the misty island 
Mountains divide us and a waste of seas y 
Yet the blood is strong^ and the heart is Highland^ 
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides" 

Possibly it was this citation of his that gave the 
poem its modern vogue, because, when he made it, 
" Joe," next to Gladstone, had the listening ear of 
the country. Strangely enough, we have, even 
now, arrived at no surety as to who wrote the poem 
in the old number of " Blackwood's Magazine," 
where it first saw the light, but perhaps "Christopher 
North " is the most likely author. If, however, you 
want to know the full history of the mystery, then 
you have only to get Lord Francis Hervey's book 
on it, " The Lone Shieling." 

With Chamberlain, to the Highlands and Islands, 
went his amiable, faithful friend Jesse Collings, 
famous then for his prescription that the happy, 
rural family should have " three acres and a cow." 
"Joe" and "Jesse" were far more sincerely 
attached to each other than the Samuel Johnson and 

129 



THE MAN BEHIND THE VEIL 

James Boswell of Fleet Street, who made an earlier 
Highland tour, and indeed they were comrades by 
disposition as well as in politics, as anybody could see. 

A certain meeting of Skye crofters fell to be 
addressed. The place of it was miles distant from 
Portree, the dainty little capital of the island, and 
there was only one " machine," as they say in Scot- 
land, to make the journey. The roads were not 
only bad but hilly, and the fewer the passengers the 
better, so Chamberlain advised the attending re- 
porters to remain comfortably in Portree, and he and 
Jesse Collings would, when they returned, tell them 
what happened at the meeting. 

They came back, late in the evening, tired and 
wet, for it rains often and very generously in the 
Hebrides. But Chamberlain would not rest, would 
not even change his clothes, until he had kept his 
promise, because the wires to Fleet Street waited. 
He sat down in the parlour of the hotel, ordered 
something hot to drink, lit his familiar cigar and 
put his single eyeglass in his eye. Then, turning 
occasionally to Jesse Collings for a point, he dictated 
an admirable account of his meeting with the crofters, 
what he said to them and what they said to him* He 
found them alert politicians with, naturally, their 
mind keenly on their own crofter affairs, and he 
liked them. 

130 



HUMOUfc IK SKYB 

It was not the habit then to let decorative small 
incidents into grave newspaper reports, but Cham- 
berlain had a keen sense of the humour of some of 
his encounters in Skye. He was amused when 
told about one aged Highlander who was violently 
Home Rule, and so an antagonist. Said this 
patriarch, speaking in the figurative language of the 
Covenanters: " I've nothing personal against Mr. 
Chamberlain, who seems a respectable Englishman, 
and he can't help that, but I wish the Lord would 
translate him 1 " The idea of going to Heaven in 
a cloud, like the Prophet Elijah, tickled Chamber- 
lain, and a quiet smile also gathered round his thin 
lips and firm mouth, when crofter after crofter 
would address him as " My Lord Chamberlain." 

It was John Morley who said that Chamberlain 
had a genius for friendship, and certainly he showed 
it in his affability to newspaper men. They also 
approved him as a speaker, for he never was in- 
audible, and his English, like himself, was compact 
and crisp. He had emotion, but he kept it well 
hidden, and he had sentiment, as a Dickens lover 
should, though he let it out more in his private 
friendships than in his public relationships. His 
most effective speeches had a quality of cool analysis 
to which the orchid he was in the habit of wearing 
seemed to give the other, opposed, quality of colour. 

K 131 



THE MAN BEHIND THE VEIL 

The finish suggested by the orchid, extended to the 
close-fitting morning coat and the nicely hanging 
grey trousers, and of course to evening dress, in 
which " Joe," unlike some of his political contem- 
poraries and successors, looked handsomely at 
home, because it suited him. 

Every good speaker has his own way of " getting 
over," and Chamberlain's lay in debate, not in 
rhetoric or in oratory. He dropped his meaning 
into the ears of an audience with the clearness of 
water running from a spring well. He spoke in 
stages, as it were, first indicating certain thoughts 
and then expounding them, and a speech of succes- 
sive waves in that manner was not only easy for an 
audience but easy to report. That was a Fleet Street 
asset of high value in the " verbatim " 'Nineties 
and Nineteen-Hundreds, when people did read 
speeches, or, at all events, got lots of them to read, 

It also belonged to " Gladstone's Lord Rosebery," 
as that many-sided nobleman was saluted during 
the historic Midlothian Campaigns, which saw him 
enter prominently on a career that eventually led to 
the Premiership. How affectionately one remem- 
bers Edinburgh when the Laird of Dalmeny was 
that to it and its public orator, rather than My Lord 
Rosebery. 

The ancient capital was very fond of him ; his 
132 



A SCOTSMAN OF DESTINY 

Byronic face, his not tall but elegant figure and his 
friendly, democratic air, set in a patrician disposi- 
tion. It was also proud of him, not merely for 
himself, but for the " renascence of wonder," as 
Theodore Watts-Dunton would have said, which 
he brought back to " mine own romantic town," so 
much flattery of history. 

His eloquence was an echo of the great Scots 
pulpit orators and his language an echo of Sir 
Walter's romance and of Stevenson's music in 
words. Edinburgh had found a voice which could 
express her and the country of which she is still the 
capital, though she may not be its metropolis. A 
glowing page that, of modern Scotland, and Glad- 
stone, the Scotsman, was the occasion for it, though 
as much may not have struck him amidst urgent 
affairs. 

It was then, if ever, that England might have 
lost Scotland, for if the Laird of Dalmeny had 
called she would have denounced the Act of Union 
and set up again by herself. Do not, of course, 
think literally like that, because nobody ever had 
such a thought then, and not very many have it now. 
Yet at one time Lord Rosebery's hold on the heart 
and mind of Scotland was so great, and, apparently, 
so inevitable, that, had he been in rebel mood, he 
could have cried, " Up wi' the bonnets o' Bonnie 

133 



THE MAN BEHIND THE VEIL 

Dundee " and heard the answer, " Scots, wha hae 
wi f Wallace bled 1 " 

With what quick humour and glancing wisdom 
would he have rebuked this vision, had it been 
chaffingly addressed to him by somebody in an 
after-dinner speech. He was no born rebel or 
dictator, no cave-man with intellect, but at such a 
speech he was so perfect that the records of Fleet 
Street put him beyond praise, at least in one case. 
It was the case of a scribe forgetting to take a note of 
Lord Rosebery's speech, because he became fascin- 
ated with it and merely listened. 

This recalls a story of his countryman, Robert 
Burns, when he went to Edinburgh and found 
himself lionised by its great folk ; and possibly it is 
quite as true. The Ayrshire Poet conversed with 
such brilliance that nobody of the company, not even 
the Duchess of Gordon, could afterwards recall what 
he said. Well, repetition is a law of nature, and it 
may also apply to after-dinner speeches, when the 
dinners are good enough. 

Perhaps, however, dinners are best, certainly most 
enjoyable, when there are no speeches, as behold, 
in reproduction, a souvenir of how Her Majesty's 
Government dined and wined at Greenwich, on 
August 1 5th, 1894, when Lord Rosebery was 
Premier : 

134 



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MADSRE 


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Rudesheimer ! 
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vint. 1868 1 
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FRITBS 


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vint. 1857 J 


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vint. 1884 


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Pfungst, Extra 
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HANCHE DE VENAISON ET HARICOTS VERTS 




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vint. 1884 ; 






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135 



THE MAN BEHIND THE VEIL 

Of old Governments went down the Thames by 
boat to dine at the Ship or the Trafalgar. Lord 
Rosebery and his colleagues revived this custom for 
the last time, so showing they could be a happy com- 
pany socially, if not so happy politically. You see, 
they had more than the usual Cabinet antagonisms, 
with the fortunate, proud, temperamental Premier 
in the Lords, and the valiant, not unnaturally dis- 
appointed Sir William Harcourt leading the Com- 
mons. 

Personally, Lord Rosebery could be very charm- 
ing as talker or speaker, and when occasion pre- 
sented itself he would bring in the " gentlemen of 
the Press " in the friendliest way. What a dread- 
ful term that was ; as if there could not be " gentle- 
men of the Press ? " It has gone out of use and out 
of meaning, but the old English Squire did hug 
it fondly as a half-way something between him and 
unrespectability. The old town or country lady 
embraced it as almost a slogan to intemperate 
desires, for " My dear, you never know who these 
fellows are, and they come into our homes, our 
drawing-rooms, nay, almost our bedrooms 1 " 

That once possible version of the " Gentlemen 
of the Press " would have sent Lord Rosebery into 
the impetuous laughter which he rarely permitted 
to a naturally impetuous Scotsman. But to be 

136 



"DEAD SEA FRUIT" 

definitely anecdotal, there was a Scots member of 
the brotherhood who had often sat under him and 
who could sing a song with the best of amateurs. 
The Laird of Dalmeny always called on him, and 
one of his notes of thanks read, " I have listened to 
you with far more pleasure than you, I'm afraid, 
have ever listened to me." 

It was that penman, or another equally observant, 
who said that the gaiety of Lord Rosebery's nature 
stood still when he lost his wife, and that it never 
bloomed as well again. High prizes in every 
range of life fell to him, but they were as " Dead Sea 
fruit," because she was not alive to share them, and 
his sorrow was too sensitive for him to share it with 
the world. There is always the one to whom it 
is not necessary to talk, who just understands. That 
is the perfection of companionship, as old friend- 
ship, which knows and excuses everything, is the 
perfection of friendship. 

Fleet Street's acquaintance with statesmen and 
other celebrities is not confined to public occasions, 
for they often, especially in recent, democratic years, 
come to it as guests. It has its own social side, 
outstretched to the highest quarters and accepted 
there, and in a modest tavern you may, if you be one 
of the elect, hear Mr. Stanley Baldwin enlarging 
on the joys of Worcestershire, or Mr. Ramsay 

137 



THE MAN BEHIND THE VEIL 

MacDonald praising Lossiemouth. These ex- 
cursions to Fleet Street are without alarms because 
there are " no reporters present " and everything is 
absolutely " masonic." 

Lord Balfour once found such ease and freedom 
in these conditions that he made a speech so reveal- 
ing nationally and internationally, yet so modest 
personally, that it will long linger silently in the 
minds of those who heard it. It was all about 
another speech which he delivered at Washington, 
and on the floor of Congress, a rare honour in itself. 
That speech had to do with the relationships of 
England and America in a naval sense, and its 
results have been in the making of history. 

It was an intellectual treat to hear the Earl of 
Balfour when he was at his best, because you got 
thought and speech in perfect union. Almost you 
might say you saw him think, so clearly did his 
tongue give expression to his mind, for he rarely 
prepared his speeches. He trusted to the hour and 
to the mood, and that was characteristic of his nature, 
which held a wonderful charm and yet could change 
to the cool, polished detachment of a guillotine 
knife. But let us, in a hitherto unwritten anecdote 
of him when he was Chief Secretary for Ireland, 
show what he could be in courage and kindness. 

He was then the " Bloody Balfour " of the Irish 

'3* 



A MIDNIGHT CALL 

Home Rulers, who later came to like him in as 
gallant a manner as he liked them. Plots for his 
confusion and destruction were frequent, and late 
one night there came rumour of one to a London 
newspaper office. A member of the staff who knew 
Mr. Arthur Balfour, as untitled he was, went down 
to Carlton Gardens to ask him about it. He rang 
the front-door bell, but there was no immediate 
answer, and indeed everybody seemed to be in bed. 
He rang again, and presently he heard a shuffling of 
feet and a turning of keys, as if some ghost were 
unchaining itself and proceeding to walk. 

Next the front door slowly opened and behind it 
stood a tall, loose figure wearing an old dressing- 
gown and red slippers and carrying a candle in one 

hand and an open novel in the other. " Hullo " 

it said ; " you at this hour of the morning. What's 
up?" The visitor from Fleet Street explained, 
and Mr. Arthur Balfour said cheerily, " A plot to 
blow me up ! Oh, that's all, is it ? Come in, and 
we'll have a Scotch whisky and talk it over." 

He was a Scotsman, with other folds begotten of 
being half an English Cecil, and that, in years to 
come, may land his biographers in pages of analysis. 
It may help them over the assessment of this or 
t'other if they remember, beside his " dazzling 
charm " and his " freezing silence," that he played 

139 



THE MAN BEHIND THE VEIL 

golf and tennis well, that he liked music and good 
talk, and that his Arthurian presence and touch were 
as a lamp among an association of kindred spirits 
whom Victorians knew, Edwardians remembered, 
and Georgians wonder about as " The Souls." 



XL GLADSTONE THE GREAT 

Seeing and hearing the " Grand Old Man " in 
public and in private, thus getting a near portrait of his 
majestic, dominating personality ; and being at Hawar- 
den when he lay dying, the heroic " Happy Warrior'' 

-*rik -<OTOBODY born since Gladstone died, can 
I^V quite understand how extraordinarily he 
1 ^k filled England, Scotland and Ireland for 
-^- N his contemporaries, whether they were with 
him or against him. He was a Presence without 
whom the nation did not let itself think and a 
personality whose influence made itself felt even in 
the intimate lives of the people. Not often, in our 
island story of great men and high deeds, has there 
been a finer human epic than he was, and Fleet 
Street gave me many gleams of that epic, with a 
moving drama as it closed. 

Nay, if someone asked, " What experience most 
deeply imprinted itself on you, as a London jour- 
nalist ? " my instant answer would be, " Being at 
Hawarden when Gladstone lay dying." There were 
a score of us or more, all not only " Specials," but 

141 



GLADSTONE THE GREAT 

men of tried and particular qualities. Necessarily, 
for attendance upon death needs a spiritual feeling 
of reverence and a worldly sense of delicacy ; and 
not only the home-land but the whole world, 
watched beside Gladstone's sick-bed in the month 
of May of the year Eighteen-ninety-eight. 

Ours was the duty of telling, from day to day and 
night to night, how the tense battle between life 
and death went, and the ordeal was no small one. 
It was a duty understood within the exquisite home 
at which we were so many pickets, but that merely 
added to its sensitive difficulty. Only the good 
fellowship among us could overcome all things and 
make them seemly in the midst of deep and tender 
family sorrow. 

How vividly that thought recalls a strange scene, 
set in a sort of Hawarden Castle boot-hall, where a 
fire burned to keep the news-watchers warm. 
There two of them sat, on a long, wooden form, 
with their arms about each other's necks, holding 
themselves from falling, as they slumbered rather 
than slept. Constantly they had been rivals in 
Fleet Street, even, perhaps, a little more, and yet 
here they now were, allies in adversity, before a fire 
which flickered and spluttered queer, uncanny 
lights and shadows about them. 

A Rembrandt might have painted the weird 
142 



DARBY AND JOAN 

scene, or a Dante or a Goethe might have rendered, 
in words, its atmosphere of comedy set in tragedy, 
all making irony. Not one of " life's little ironies," 
but the mortal and immortal irony which we help- 
lessly call eternity. It might have been a parable 
play around poor humanity, unconcernedly flat- 
tened out by exhausted nature, on sentinel-go with 
the Angel of Death. 

A valiant octogenarian not out ! That had 
been Gladstone in the first years of his retirement 
from politics, and he and Catherine Gladstone still 
played together like child lovers, and sang as 
Darby and Joan, " My heart is true to Poll," or 
their favourite chorus, " A ragamuffin husband and 
a rantipolin' wife." 

" P.M. singing ' My 'art is true to Poll ' all the 
eve," we have the record in the diaries of their 
youngest daughter, Mary Gladstone ; or " P.M. 
in such spirits he sang * My heart is true to Poll ' all 
thro' dinner " ; or, still more adorable, " I was in my 
room at 9.30 and heard him and Mama coming up 
the stairs singing * A ragamuffin husband and a 
rantipolin' wife * at the top of their voices." 

How lovely married love had been for them, all 
the long time, and how sweetheartly and motherly 
she had been to him, as one had frequently seen with 
one's own eyes. It was a muffler produced from 



GLADSTONE THE GREAT 

somewhere, lest he should catch cold, the glasses 
which, but for her, would have been forgotten at 
home, or the lotion he sipped during a speech, to 
keep his throat supple and resonant. It consisted 
of egg and sherry, compounded by Mrs. Gladstone, 
and carried to speech-makings with the guarding 
care which she gave him in all things. 

She had, as we now know, had a broken engage- 
ment before the young Gladstone asked her hand 
and she said to him, " I can only give you half a 
heart." " My dear," he answered, " I will make it 
a whole one," and how fully he did that the mere 
onlooker could see in the soft bloom of her face, as 
she watched him making a speech. 

What a speaker I His unusually broad shoulders 
bespoke lungs that, in his prime, yielded billows of 
sound, emotionally delightful to the ear. That had 
been the discovery of a Scots boy, drawn with 
all the countryside, to the Deeside station of Aboyne, 
where Gladstone stopped for a few moments on his 
way to Braemar in the far, wondering Eighteen- 
Eighties. 

His lion head, suggestive of the Lion's Head 
peak of a familiar Braemar hill, was silhouetted in 
the railway carriage, and he bent it in courteous 
recognition of a rapturous crowd. For in Scotland, 
instinctively brotherly, and proud of it, Gladstone 

144 



A VOICE LIKE A BELL 

was the Scot, as well as then king, a two-fold fact 
which told with the people. He could not well 
remain silent with such infecting warmth about 
him, and doubtless there was a private understand- 
ing between the crowd and the engine-driver, that 
the train should not move on until the " Grand Old 
Man " did say something. He did not say much, 
but he said it from the opened door of his carriage, 
with such a melody of voice that one hardly noticed 
what he did say. 

Years afterwards I was to hear that voice, again 
and again, in the House of Commons, on the 
political platform, at various meetings, and in the 
drawing-room of Hawarden Castle itself. A 
certain hoarseness grew upon it, when it tired, but 
always it kept its bell-like note, its texture of music 
and its persuasive command. In conversation it 
would ring like silver and move, like quick-silver, 
with animation, and then there would be the courte- 
ous wait for a reply, with one hand held shell-fashion 
to the ear, a help to some deafness. The eyes were 
still shining lights in the large lined face which 
ruffled mobility to every passing thought, as a lake 
ruffles to a breeze. More, he actually and literally 
had eyes which flashed out of their darkness, like 
an eagle's, so that you could follow their flashes, 
count them, feel them, when he was deeply stirred. 



GLADSTONE THE GREAT 

Never a tall man, Gladstone yet looked it, and in 
the throes of a speech he was not only uplifted men- 
tally and spiritually but physically. He had a 
body of such elastic elegance and a countenance of 
such fine bravery, that you thought of ancient 
Greek statues. Dignity was his by nature, but it 
was supple and gracious, not haughty, although, 
when provoked, he could blaze and strike. His 
whole personality helped to make him " a constant 
influence, a peculiar grace," and " the happy 
warrior every man in arms should hope to be." 
Above everything, he had courage ; courage to 
risk and do, courage in the battle, courage in victory 
and courage in defeat, as when, after a General 
Election, he said to his youngest son : " Well, Her- 
bert, my dear old boy, we have had a drubbing and 
no mistake." 

" Be inspired," he once laid it down in his gospel 
of conduct, " with the belief that life is a great and 
honourable calling, not a mean and grovelling thing 
that we are to struggle through as best we can," 

That elevated note of living and teaching was the 
ultimate secret of his lasting sovereignty with the 
British people, for true greatness rests on character 
more than on anything else. His gravely proud 
nature would never stoop to a petty thing, but always 
took the straight road, the ascending road, the high 

146 




Sidney P. Hall. 



Bv courtesy of" The Graphic. 



Gladstone in the House of Commons 



"LOUD is THE VALE" 



road. Thus he walked unafraid, in the bright face 
of danger, because he walked in what was very real 
to him, the simple faith and near guidance of God. 

His religion was part of his being, but no 
achieving man can be without armour, and no 
doubt Gladstone's had its chinks, for enemies, as a 
fine landscape has folds for the imperfect traveller. 
Never, though, was it aught but the shining panoply 
of splendid purpose, directed by lofty ideals and the 
battering-ram brain of the first great humanitarian 
statesman. 

His noble magnanimity had often been a " soul 
under the ribs of death," to the nation, and as he 
lay dying at Hawarden, Wordsworth might have 
been passing through Grasmere, where he learned of 
the impending death of an earlier paladin of liberty, 
Charles James Fox, and wrote " Loud is the Vale " : 

11 And many thousands now are sad 
Wait the fulfilment of their fear ; 
For he must die, who is their stay. 
Their glory disappear. 

A Power is passing from the earth 
To breathless Nature's dark abyss ; 
But when the Mighty pass away 
What is there more than this 
L 147 



GLADSTONE THE GREAT 

That Man, who is from God sent forth, 
Doth yet again to God return ? 
Such ebb and flow must ever be, 
Then wherefore should we mourn ? " 

True, but a magnificent presence was about to 
depart, to become dumb for ever more, and there was 
almost a crisis of public dismay as well as of personal 
affection. Who in the commonwealth could fill 
the place of this elder statesman, so grand mentally, 
morally, spiritually, that he had become a veritable 
pillar of it ? Nobody. 

It was as if Macaulay's New Zealander sat on a 
broken arch of London Bridge and sketched the 
ruins of St. Paul's. No words, marshal them as 
one may, can fully convey the depth and spread and 
multitude of Gladstone's roots, in Victorian soil. 
He was like a great, old English oak that had with- 
stood the blasts of the ages and tamed them ; a 
monarch of the forest, such as even he, in the hey- 
day of his axe, could scarcely have cut down. 
But all this was so intimate as to be almost oppres- 
sive that night, at Hawarden Castle, when we heard 
he was not likely to see another dawn. 

He had fought the fight against growing illness, 
as he had fought every good fight all his life, with 
a vibrant resolution, a perfect faith, and a beautiful 



A MOST SACRED DAY 

patience. He had taught his fellow-men and women 
how to live, and when he could no longer do that 
he was teaching them how to die. His nobility of 
character and his resources of heart and spirit had 
for half a century been equal to every hazard of fate. 
But the heavy wrinkles in the curiously marble pallor 
of the face had deepened into valleys of shadow, the 
scant, silvery hair had almost thinned away, the 
glorious voice had sunk to a whisper, and the patri- 
archal figure itself was worn to a shadow by cruel 
suffering which the doctors could only relieve, not 
conquer. So, after rallies which were almost heroic, 
a gentle cloud of unconsciousness descended upon 
the Grand Old Warrior, and it became his winding- 
sheet on a day most sacred to him Ascension 
Day. 

Ascension Eve, May 19, 1898, at Hawarden 
Castle 1 One's mind is a clear diary about it, and it 
resembled a diary in noting, as shreds and patches, 
things which afterwards became the whole. Several 
of us, to lighten the hours of watching and waiting, 
took a walk in Hawarden Park, the Gladstone 
demesne, about when night and morning were to 
meet. That is always an hour of change and 
portent, for one day is dying and gathers its cere- 
ments as another day is being born, bridal and 
hopeful. 



GLADSTONE THE GREAT 

The stars in the heavens were winking at each 
other with rare brightness, and doused lights, steadier 
than the flickering candles which hurt Gladstone's 
eyes when he was studying at Oxford, were burning 
in the three-windowed sick-room of the castle. A 
lonely, wild bird cried plaintively somewhere, and 
that struck our tired but strung nerves as an omen 
of something about to happen. 

For many hours Gladstone's life had been hovering 
between the two worlds, this where it had done so 
much, the other which had no terrors for it but a 
Hail after a Farewell. The fine simile of his old 
friend, John Bright, at the outbreak of the Crimean 
War, suggested itself, for the wings of the Angel 
of Death, if they could not be heard beating, were 
surely sailing the heavens. 

While we, outside in Hawarden Park, wondered, 
the members of the Gladstone family within the 
house, had gathered for the parting. The wife 
and mother, weary with the long vigil at the sick- 
bed, and heart-laden with grief, sat beside her 
husband, holding his hand, now pressing it, now 
kissing it. Her son the Vicar of Hawarden read 
litanies and said prayers, in which the other members 
of the group silently joined. It was the Calvary and 
the Ascension which have been the road of Christian 
mankind, in cottage or in hall, ever poignant, now 

150 



THE SIMPLICITY OF DEATH 

illustrious yet simple, for death is a one-way end 
to all human pilgrimages. 

As the dawn came, Gladstone's breathing, which 
had been so low and faint as hardly to be perceptible, 
became laboured. Nothing of a struggle, but a 
kind of gradual going, as if, in his soul, he still 
would sing the hymn, on which he had dwelt so 
much, " Praise to the Holiest in the height." It 
was a favourite hymn with him, and, like all our 
individually favourite hymns, went back to his 
early life, for it spoke of John Henry Newman and 
the Oxford Movement. 

Perhaps mental consciousness had not wholly 
fled, because earlier he had muttered " Amen," his 
last word on this earth. As five o'clock a.m. chimed 
softly on the clocks of Hawarden Castle, he gave 
two slight gasps and died, his arms clasped across 
his breast, and " Peace, perfect peace " on his face. 
A noble passing, for which the world held its breath, 
saying in the Scriptural challenge, " Oh, death, 
where is thy sting ? " 

What a superb face Gladstone's remained in 
death, for we saw that, with the privilege of 
making obeisance to the mortal remains of this 
immortal. It was notably thinner, a fact which 
added emphasis to its strong line from fore- 
head to chin, though the dropt eyelids shut the 



GLADSTONE THE GREAT 

windows from which genius had so often flashed 
and so often conquered. 

Yet the old grandeur was all there ; in the con- 
tour of the profile as I once saw him reading in his 
Temple of Peace and lost to the outer world ; in 
the spacious, massive brow, bastion of a head 
memorable among all human heads ; and in the 
concentrated general expression of the countenance, 
shuttered, but glowing with the embers of a life's 
captaincy. " Most noble and grand did Papa 
look," wrote Mary Gladstone about him, on some 
living occasion, and it was as true in death. 

" Mr. Gladstone," said the physicians, in their 
last bulletin, " passed peacefully away at five o'clock 
this morning." His face, in its last repose, so told 
of peace, after the pain he had borne, that he might 
just have fallen asleep, but it also had another, 
different testimony. It had a stamp of resolve and 
masterfulness which, one might fancy, had several 
times thrown back the Angel of Death, saying he 
would only be received on terms of compromise ; a 
Gladstonian victory over the flesh, over even the 
grave awaiting in Westminster Abbey. 

This fancy, as increased tribute to a knight of all 
the courages, I ventured to confide to John Viscount 
Morley, during a conversation I had with him in 
subsequent years, partly around the hero of his 

152 



TO WESTMINSTER ABBEVl 

famous " Gladstone. " Yes," ventured I, " one 
might, looking on that tender, yet stern and com- 
bative dead face, almost have thought the Grand 
Old Warrior kept death, though due, at bay until 
Ascension Day, in order to be in its glorious com- 
pany/' Morley glanced at me with as much 
wondering curiosity as ever got into his ascetic face 
and then, as if seeking its opinion, at the Italian 
Penseroso on the mantelpiece of his study at 
Wimbledon Common. Finally, may be recalling 
Gladstone's " J. Morley is, on the whole, about the 
best stay I have," he turned to me with a quiet, 
amused, but grave and understanding smile and 
said, "A most interesting theory, but impossible 
of proof." 

As Gladstone's biographer, and as an old Fleet 
Street man, Morley also listened with quiet interest 
to a little story new to him, as it will be to others, 
affecting the " Grand Old Man's " burial in West- 
minster Abbey. The nation took it for granted 
that he could only lie there and was puzzled when, 
following his death, no immediate announcement of 
this was made. The silence also intrigued the 
newspaper correspondents at Hawarden, and hap- 
pening to meet a member of the Gladstone family, I 
mentioned it to him. 

" Oh," said he, " my father's will provides 

153 



GLADSTONE THE GREAT 

absolutely that he and my mother must rest to- 
gether, and I suppose the Abbey authorities are 
wondering whether they can spare the room for 
both/ 1 

A key to the enigma, and it went swiftly to Fleet 
Street, not only an exclusive and valuable bit of 
news, but a word in the ear of public opinion* It 
instantly exclaimed, " Of course William Ewart 
Gladstone and Catherine Gladstone shall be together 
in death, as they were together in life, and they shall 
lie together in Westminster Abbey." 

Next time you go there, enter the venerable house 
by the Western Door and walk up the aisle until 
you come to a stone into which there is cut the one 
word " Gladstone " ; their united and inseparable 
legacy to mankind. 



'54 



XII. " FATHERS " OF THE HOUSE 

Personal memories by them of English Parliamentary 
life, and its changes, in our own time ; and descriptions 
of Brougham, Palmerston, Peel, Melbourne, Canning, 
Cobden, O'Connell, Disraeli, Gladstone, Parnell and 
other famous statesmen. 

A MAN who has been long enough in the 
House of Commons to become its 
" Father," should have interesting things 
to tell us. It means he has been an M.P. 
continuously for more years than any brother 
member and, in cases, a Minister, or even Premier, 
like Mr. Lloyd George, who succeeded Mr. T. P. 
O'Connor in this Parliamentary fathership. Our 
concern here is with earlier, but also modern, 
" Fathers " and with their impressions and anec- 
dotage, as gathered in talks I had with them. 

At Cadogan Gardens, by Sloane Street, there 
once lived the Right Honourable Charles Pelham 
Villiers, M.P., and " Father " of the Commons for 
so long that he had almost been forgotten. He 
was a link with the Unreformed Parliament, and so, 



" FATHERS " OF THE HOUSE 

before he died in the late 'Nineties, he could look 
back on whole pages of English history. He did 
that sitting in an easy chair by his fireside, white- 
haired, fragile and shrunk, but still keen-eyed and 
mentally alert. 

His face had the remains of manly English good 
looks, his fingers, with which he lightly drummed 
his knees to emphasise a point, remained muscular, 
if gnarled, and his whole air was aristocratic. It 
was as if a " stately home " of England had become 
weather-worn, but was still inhabited by an old 
family. His name proclaimed the old English 
family to which he belonged, and he was not only 
" Father " of a democratic House of Commons, but 
father, with Richard Cobden, of Free Trade. 

It was himself, he said quite simply and without 
any sort of boast, who " exhumed " Cobden from 
the industrial world of the north. He could not, 
ask as he would, find anybody in the Reform Club 
who could tell him about this apostolic northerner. 
Their political views seemed to correspond, so, 
going to Rochdale, he sought him out, and they 
joined forces in the campaign for Free Trade. 

Cobden was a happy and persuasive speaker, 
more a " facts " speaker than John Bright, but 
equally effective on the platform or in the House 
of Commons. Personally, Cobden was spruce, 

156 



JOHN BRIGHT THE QUAKER 

business-like, well dressed, while Bright was 
Quakerish, and indeed, when he entered the House 
of Commons, wore Quaker dress. He did that in 
loyalty to Quaker tradition and in deference to his 
father, and only gave it up some time after his 
father's death. 

A peg in the mind of the aged Villiers held a clear 
picture of the relations of especial friendship and 
sympathy which united Gladstone and John Bright. 
When they definitely separated on Irish Home Rule, 
after a forlorn-hope talk of two hours, " I never saw 
Bright so excited. He could not understand what 
had brought Gladstone to it all, but neither of them 
faltered, much as they suffered in losing each other." 
A moment's silence followed this memory, as if it 
still held pain for a mutual friend and comrade. 

To speak of Beaconsfield from the beginning, 
was to go farther back, and what Villiers said was 
admiration with qualification. " Disraeli ? A 
great Parliamentarian, but there was much fustian 
about his speeches." The effect of this on the 
House was emphasised by " Dizzy's " weakness, 
in his younger days, for " fancy dress," and that 
memory recalled the other of his challenge in so 
many words : " You may not hear me now, but the 
day is coming when you will have to listen to me." 
Villiers heard this challenge and defiance and said 

157 



<c FATHERS'* OF THE HOUSE 

it was the reply to much quizzical asking which had 
gone on, " What's Benjamin going to do ? " 

The homely colloquialism of that phrase pierces 
the curtain of a century or so of time, and other vivid 
little Parliamentary lights were also found burning 
in Cadogan Gardens. " Ten speeches in a night," 
once exclaimed Joseph Hume " where are we 
going ? " " I've lived long enough," commented 
Villiers, " to find the public pleased when a man 
makes a good speech in Parliament, as if his so doing 
were a surprise. Of old, good speeches were ex- 
pected, and it's come to this, I fancy ; more speeches, 
fewer orators." No orator was Lord John Russell, 
but there was a remembered deliverance by him 
when something new was proposed : " We can't 
have a revolution every year." 

Probably the Duke of Wellington would have 
said ditto to that, as a too modest Parliamentary 
candidate said " ditto to Mr. Burke." Anyhow, 
Villiers could quote him as saying about his iron 
shutters at Hyde Park Corner : " Yes, there they 
remain ; the mob would do it again." And there 
they remain to-day, as you will see if you look at 
Apsley House from the Hyde Park side. 

Nobody, Villiers emphasised, who did not live at 
the same time as the victor of Waterloo, could possi- 
bly understand the extraordinary place and prestige 



CALLING OUT "THE DUKE*' 

he had in the country. He was an all-round strong 
figure and sagacious according to his faiths, and 
even reformers, wondering how obstinate the House 
of Lords might be, said, " He will keep it in order 
as long as he is alive." There was, of course, a 
peer, Lord Winchilsea, with whom the Duke had 
a challenge, and some people thought it shocking 
and others thought he deserved something worse. 

What a pity Charles Pelham Villiers did not 
write his ordered reminiscences, for he saw an old, 
old world go and a new world come. They would 
have included a full portrait of Canning instead of the 
scraps, " a wonderful orator," " a man of singular 
natural charm," or " there was a good deal of 
mystery about him." Brougham ? "An ex- 
traordinarily clever fellow, but nobody quite relied 
on him." 

Peel ? " Careful and cautious. Somebody said 
that if there was a public meeting of the whole 
country he would be the man to put in the chair, the 
ideal Mr. Chairman. The very quality there im- 
plied meant he was cool, even, perhaps, cold, and 
also that he had not many intimate or sincere friends 
to bother his judgment." 

Palmerston ? " A man of the world, with an 
instinctive knowledge of men and affairs and 
courage, even daring." Melbourne ? " Somehow 

'59 



"FATHERS" OF THE HOUSE 

many people rather mistrusted him, but he got 
amazing credit for his guardianship of young 
Queen Victoria." Daniel O'Connell ? " Never out 
of bed at ten and up at four, studying his briefs ; a 
captivating orator with a natural sway over minds and 
emotions. He said he would repeal the Corn Laws 
almost as much as he would repeal the union be- 
tween Ireland and England." 

Of those men only Benjamin Disraeli came into 
the testament of my next and the next " Father " 
of the House of Commons, Sir John Mowbray. 
He was a fine type of the county gentlemen who 
ruled England so long and one of the last 
of them in the full sense. They had, perhaps, 
governed by character more than by intellect, and 
along with a quiet, clear brain, and a sound, gracious 
heart, he had a sturdy character. Here was just 
the Englishman to whom " Dizzy " would have 
taken as a friend, without, perhaps, asking him to be 
a counsellor. 

" A wholly marvellous man," was Sir John's 
estimate of him, and it was based on personal inter- 
course. " I have never met anybody who was so 
far-sighted, who had so true a political vision." He 
cited the affair of the Suez Canal shares as one 
instance of this and the American Civil War as 
another. 

1 60 



"DIZZY AND AMERICA" 

" No doubt the Conservatives were for the 
South, almost to a man, but Disraeli held us back. 




Sir John Mowbray, a " Father " of the House of Commons, and a 
man finely distinctive of the County Gentlemen of England, who once 
had the " guidirf o*t " in Parliament. 

Lord John Russell had said the Southern States 
were fighting the battle of independence and 
empire, and Gladstone that Jefferson Davis had 
created an army, a navy and a nation. Disraeli used 
always to say, " c America is a great nation, and it 
is not going to break up.' " 

161 



"FATHERS** OF THE HOUSE 

Next, from Sir John Mowbray, came a particular 
story of " Dizzy," with whom, shortly after the 
battle of Bull Run, he was a fellow-guest at an English 
country house. " Well, what about this victory of 
the Confederates ? " asked their hostess, com- 
mandingly, as a grand lady of mid-Victorian society 
would ask, Disraeli looked up at her and slowly 
replied, " My dear lady, in words somebody has 
said before me, I cannot see farther than my nose, 
and that is a small one." As a matter of fact it 
was not small, but pronounced and particular, 
only that did not affect the evasion in " Dizzy's " 
remark. 

Of his charm of manner, Sir John had enthusi- 
astic memories " the easiest man to talk to I ever 
knew." Also he paid an earnest tribute to Lady 
Beaconsfield, saying she was a wife among wives 1 

It was a common tale that she had her finger 
jammed in the carriage-door one afternoon when 
setting out to drive her husband to Westminster. 
Notwithstanding the pain, she did not then tell him 
of the accident, lest it should upset an important 
speech he was about to make. Sir John certified to 
the incident, saying it was in accord with her 
frequent merry words to her friends : 

" I try to save him from every worry I can. 
When he comes home late, I tell him the events of 

162 



<4 HOME IS THE WARRIOR 1 " 

my day and he tells me of his doings in the House 
of Commons, and I cheer them all over again/* 

This brought up a classic story of the late-married 
but well-assorted pair, because Sir John Mowbray 
was act and part in it. He had, as he sometimes 
did, walked with " Dizzy " from the House of 
Commons to their Park Lane home at Stanhope 
Gate. The house was lighted up inside when they 
entered, and there was Lady u Dizzy " on the stair- 
case, in evening dress, to receive her lord. It was 
her way to keep the place and herself lightsome and 
brightsome like this for him, and he, with his Orien- 
tal touch, liked it. He turned to Sir John and 
pointing to the attending flunkeys, to the glowing 
lights, and to the staircase, with her smiling, colour- 
ful ladyship coming down it, he said, " She might 
be not only my wife ; she might be my mistress." 

As a leader, pure and simple, of the House of 
Commons, Disraeli, in the opinion of his old friend, 
was almost unmatched. He fancied that his secret, 
or part of it, lay in the splendid humour with which 
he managed the assembly. The House thought it 
was pleasing itself, even taking hold of the bit and 
riding independence, always dear to M.P.'s, when 
it was merely following his adroit lead. He rarely 
dined away from it, or, if he did, he would take 
some troublesome member of the party home with 

M 163 



'* FATHERS " OF THE HOUSE 

him, in order to smooth him out. Thus he was 
ever ready to lull any storm before it had actually 
broken, or to solve any tangle that might arise. He 
was like an instinctively clever jockey who knows 
how to humour a horse and, by that management, 
get the best out of it. 

Another Disraelian characteristic that has been 
carried down to us, also crept into my conversation 
with Sir John Mowbray. It was that he was hardly 
ever noticed to smile while in the House of Com- 
mons. Instances have been mentioned by Dis- 
raeli's close contemporaries because they were 
regarded as rarities. " Yes," said Sir John, " it is 
true he had this peculiarity ; his invariable attitude, 
even when he was making fun of somebody in a 
speech, was that of gravity." 

Disraeli was not an orator, like John Bright, or 
Gladstone, but he was a consummate Parliamentary 
debater. He often repeated himself, and he did so 
on the principle that it was necessary to hammer 
things, in order to get them into people's heads. 
That plan involved the risk of becoming tedious, 
and occasionally Disraeli, with all his wit and 
brilliance, could be tedious. 

This led our talk, by way of contrast, to eloquence 
in Parliament, and, in Sir John's memory, Gladstone's 
speech on the Reform Bill of 1866 was the greatest 



DRAMA AT ST. STEPHENS 

speech he ever delivered. The peroration, with its 
" Time is against you," was no less than beautiful, 
grand, sublime all in one. Then John Bright's 
finest effort was his deliverance upon the subject 
of the Crimean War, with its lofty citation of the 
Angel of Death. " And," said Sir John Mow- 
bray, " the beating of his wings could, indeed, al- 
most be heard in the awesome silence which fell on 
the House of Commons." 

The most dramatic scene Sir John had witnessed 
there was, he thought, when the first Irish Home 
Rule Bill was rejected, as a result of the split in the 
Liberal Party. " The excitement was immense," 
he recalled, " and for myself I was not sure whether 
we should be able, with the Liberal Unionists, as 
they became known, to throw out the measure. I 
believed that we would be very near it, but I was 
not quite confident, and this uncertainty on the part 
of everybody gave the division a tense feeling of 
drama." 

The Commons of Sir John Mowbray would 
scarcely know the Commons of to-day, but he 
thought the House always kept its Parliamentary 
spirit, whatever the outer changes might be. It had 
its breezes, rising in one quarter, or another, as the 
case might be, but it had an unfailing appreciation 
of what was decorous, dignified and of good report. 

165 



"FATHERS" OF THE HOUSE 

No doubt he would, if he were in Parliament to-day, 
still pay that tribute to its sense of things. 

" I fancy,* 1 he observed with a laugh, " there was 
more Parliamentary cock-crowing, more trouble 
generally, from 1835 to 1839, when Abercromby was 
Speaker, than there has ever been since, or is ever 
likely to be/ 1 Saying this, Sir John quoted a remark 
by a great Speaker, a friend of his, Shaw Lefevre : 

" I found that until I was sixty I could rule the 
House. When I passed that age I began to dis- 
cover that the House had a tendency to rule me." 

Possibly the qualities which win success in it 
continue, in essence, what they were, like its mental 
spirit and its personal atmosphere. " There must," 
prescribed Sir John Mowbray, " be some natural 
capacity for political work in a member who hopes 
to achieve anything. He must work hard : Dis- 
raeli was an ardent worker ; Gladstone a marvel of 
industry as well as of character. Also a man must 
have strong convictions ; he must be sincere or the 
House will discount him. He needs courage and 
readiness in debate, and humour has its uses in 
Parliament, as in all life." Sir John completed 
this prescription for a successful M.P. by adding, 
" Besides those qualities, let him have as much as 
possible of every element that is good." 

Another, not unlike, estimate of the qualities for 
166 



ADVICE TO AN M.P. 

the perfect M.P. was given me by a " Father of the 
House/' who did not, I fancy, actually become 
" Father," notwithstanding his long service. This 
was Sir George Osborne Morgan, the " Old Parlia- 
mentary Hand " of the Welsh Party when Mr. 
Lloyd George was still hardly more than its David. 
Sir George entered the House of Commons for 
Denbighshire in 1 868, or soon after the Reform Bill 
which changed it so radically. He remained in it down 
to nearly its still greater modern changes in member- 
ship, and he was a student of its moods and ways. 
What would he say to anybody who, on becoming 
an M.P,, asked his guiding advice ? " First/' he 
answered, " be honest. When a man woos a con- 
stituency he has ever so many second-hand crotchets 
put before him. It is so much easier to say * Yes/ 
than to say * No/ and thus he comes to the House 
with a millstone about his neck. Second, he should 
never talk about what he does not understand. The 
House of Commons is at once the most indulgent 
and the most critical audience in the world. It will 
stand anything from a man who knows what he is 
speaking about, but woe to the man who speaks for 
the sake of speaking." Silence, when it should be 
silence, was twice golden at St. Stephen's, and Sir 
George waved his hand, as if in appeal to that 
sentinel of Parliament, Big Ben. 



44 FATHERS" OF THE HOUSE 

44 Whoever," he summed up, 4< observes the 
things I have suggested, has a right facility of speech, 
a good temper, a good digestion, endurance of 
physique, and that sense of humour which keeps him 
from making a fool of himself ; such a man is pretty 
sure of a fair Parliamentary success, even if he does 
not stamp his name upon the ages, a dream far more 
often than an achievement." 

Parnell, Sir George Osborne Morgan named as 
a born Parliamentarian and a natural king and 
ruler of men. He was a high example of what a 
strong personality could accomplish in the House 
of Commons. When he got up to speak one could 
literally hear a pin drop, so earnest was the attention. 
Also Randolph Churchill was a natural and great 
Parliamentarian, a man with undoubted political 
genius. While he hit hard, and may sometimes 
have left a sting, Sir George did not think that was 
a true part of " Randy's " character. 

44 One night he criticised something I said and, 
as it happened, misquoted me. I pointed this out, 
and he came to me, said he was sorry, and that it was 
his deafness which prevented him from hearing me 
clearly." This was one of the last occasions on 
which they had a friendly talk, for Lord Randolph's 
health was already beginning to fail. 

Decorousness generally Sir George associated 
168 



YOUTH FOR AGE 

with " The House " in the Eighteen-Nineties, an 
ever-growing decorousness ; also youthfulness of 
membership, as compared with earlier times. 
Didn't Professor Fawcett, the blind Postmaster- 
General, say to him : " At Cambridge I am a dried- 
up don, but here I am a rising politician." That 
memory sent Sir George on an anecdotal trail and 
to a story with which he had once amused John 
Bright about Pitt and the traditional hard-drinking 
nights in the House of Commons. 

" It was related to myself," he said, " by a gentle- 
man who, as a boy, had dined with Addington at 
Bellamy's when Pitt was of the party. Pitt had 
just finished his second bottle of port, as a message 
came that he was urgently wanted at the House. 
He was so overcome with wine that he had to grope 
his way to the door, but once in the House he got up 
and delivered, so my informant declared, his 
greatest speech," 

On this John Bright made two remarks : that 
there were no reporters in those years to hear Pitt, 
and that everybody who did hear him had drunk, 
not two bottles of port only, as he had, but three 1 
Bright's commentary, Sir George remarked, was a 
sufficient contradiction of the notion, which somehow 
got about, that he had no sense of humour, whereas 
he had a very real sense of humour. Want of 

169 



"FATHERS" OF THE HOUSE 

humour had also been charged against Peel, but 
there was a good story to contradict that, and Sir 
George produced it from the archives of his memory. 

An almost forgotten character, Feargus O'Con- 
nor, had said, in a speech, that if he were Prime 
Minister, he would not care whether Victoria was 
Queen of England or the devil King. Peel was 
asked if he meant to prosecute O'Connor for this, 
and, said he, " Seeing the quarter it comes from, 
the less notice taken of it the better. But," he 
added, " if the aspirations of the Honourable 
Member were realised and Beelzebub were seated 
on the throne of these islands, I feel sure the Prime 
Minister would never be able to complain that he 
had not got the confidence of the Crown." 

Heavy humour perhaps, old-fashioned humour 
may be, but expressed in a Parliamentary form which 
would have appealed to the Commons. Equally, 
said Sir George Osborne Morgan, they would appre- 
ciate the neat, light retort, in another incident which 
he quoted from his remembrances at Westminster. 
It involved Sir John Holker, as Solicitor-General, 
Sir Wilfrid Lawson, as temperance champion, and 
a licensing bill which was being discussed. 

The phrase " populous places " occurred in it, and 
Holker declared that, at least the lobby into which 
Lawson would lead his supporters would not be a 

170 



SPEECHES AND DIVISIONS 

populous place. " I think," was the instant 
retort, " Sir George Holker does not put his case 
high enough, because in deciding what is a populous 
place, you are bound to take into account the 
density of the population/' 

Outsiders always wonder, being human as well 
as long-suffering, whether the multitude of speeches 
delivered in the House of Commons really in- 
fluences divisions. Sir George Osborne Morgan, 
who had the Victorian regard for a great writer, 
quoted Macaulay's historic speech about the 
Mastership of the Rolls. 

44 The only instance," he went on, " coming 
within my own experience, was John Bright's 
address on the second reading of the Burials 
Amendment Bill in 1875. It was the greatest 
oration I ever heard in the House, and its description 
of the Quaker funeral is, to my mind, one of the finest 
things in the English language. Its effect was so 
remarkable that, though, as the mover of the second 
reading of the Bill, I was entitled to reply on the 
debate, I went to a division the moment Bright sat 
down." 

Compare Bright and Gladstone as speakers ? 
Impossible 1 It would be like comparing Milton 
and Shakespeare, they were so different. And 
perhaps Disraeli would mean still more contrast ? 

171 



' OF THE HOUSE 

Surely. " My most vivid memory of him," said 
Sir George Osborne Morgan, " is the wonderful 
way in which he used, by an adroit answer, to parry 
an attack " ; and that also meant a story. 

An " honourable gentleman " of the House of 
Commons had called the Irish Party a " disreput- 
able crew." " What," demanded one of them, 
Alexander Sullivan, " would the Prime Minister 
say if I were to call him and his Cabinet a disreput- 
able crew ? " Disraeli gravely rose and gravely 
replied, " Sir, I should take no notice of it what- 



ever." 



It was, thought Sir George Osborne Morgan, a 
better reply than Palmerston made to the Parlia- 
mentary reporters when they asked him for more 
accommodation in which to do their work. His 
reply was " No," that it was not possible, and 
theirs, u Then, sir, we shall have to report your 
speeches as you speak them " ; which brings us 
back always back to Fleet Street. 



172 




XIII. SOME MEN OF LETTERS 

Oliver Wendell Holmes " at home " with hi$ 
*' Autocrat " ; William Morris, poet and Socialist, 
" at home " at his Kelmscott Press ; and Charles 
Dickens, novelist and man, " at home " in the memory 
of his publisher. 

NE who walks long and intimately in the 
j London literary world necessarily comes 
'into contact with most of its celebrities. 
There were the late Victorians, there were 
the Edwardians and there have been the very 
modern Georgians, a three-volume pageant, you see. 
It is enough here to turn a few of its pages for por- 
traits suggested by particular memories of agree- 
able experiences. 

The bustle and tiredness of an early visit to 
America included a call on Oliver Wendell Holmes 
at his summer home, Beverley Farms, a score of 
miles along the New England coast from Boston. 
Who would not like to have met the " Autocrat at 
the Breakfast Table " ? He was then a very old 
man, but as youthful in spirit and as keen in con- 



SOME MEN OF LETTERS 

versation as he was gracious in his welcome to a 
stranger from England. 

Outside his house without a name, for it needed 
none, the air carried the scent of flowers and the 
hum of bees. Just inside was his library, with a 
tidy desk in the window and a working range of 
books beside it. On the desk lay an unfinished 
sheet of manuscript, and, said he : 

" No man, you know, is ever too old to do any- 
thing in the nature of what has been his custom. 
It is when a man come over to years, tackles any- 
thing entirely new that he feels it, and not until 
then. Ah," he added with a laugh, quizzical 
but golden, like a heart ever rejoicing, " you are, 
perhaps, curious as to my habits of eating, sleeping 
and so on, especially as I am a doctor. Simple 
enough ; just the same as anybody else's," and he 
gravely described them. 

" I'm called in the morning a quarter after seven 
o'clock, and I have breakfast, of coffee, bread-and- 
butter and fish or an egg, at half past eight. During 
the forenoon I walk a short while or a longer while, 
and in the afternoon I drive in my phaeton for a 
couple of hours and receive visitors. I'm never to 
bed until after eleven, and as to literary work, there's 
always something doing, only I suffer from weak 
eyes." 




Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes at Boston 



PAGES IN WAITING 

Perhaps, he went on, with a laugh in his voice, 
that was what kept him from reading all the manu- 
scripts younger writers sent him for his kind opin- 
ion, and all the new books which came to him for a 
word. He wondered if the fate of those greetings 
was what it would be with other honoured veterans 
of the pen. A newcomer got on to his breakfast- 
table, then to a shelf in the library, afterwards to 
higher and higher shelves, and finally in many 
cases, he was afraid, to the book hospital at the top 
of the house. What might happen some day to the 
contents of this hospital he hardly dared say ; and 
now, Oliver Wendell Holmes being long gone, 
there is, perhaps, nobody left to tell, though it does 
not matter. 

" Did you ever,*' I asked, " discover a genius 
among the young men who send you their manu- 
scripts and new books ? " " Bret Harte," he said, 
" has told me that in his early days I wrote him a 
letter of encouragement. Until he mentioned the 
thing, I had forgotten all about it. Talent I have 
several times discovered, because it is less rare than 
genius, though," he added, " sometimes near it in 
quality." 

We went out into the verandah and its flowers, 
and, waving his small, delicate hand at them, he 
said, " I like flowers, all kinds of them ; perhaps 

'75 



SOME MEN OF LETTERS 

roses the most. On birthdays, and I've had a good 
lot, I get so many flowers that they hardly leave room 
in the house for ourselves." He was thinking of 
his wife, a dear, winsome old lady, whose un- 
obtrusive attentions to him let me see how perfect 
in companionship they were, wandering down the 
hill of a happy life, hand in hand. 

" Oh yes," he resumed, " people are kind, for 
this golden spoon in my coffee-cup was sent to me 
from Rome by a lady, and, notice, it has a goose on 
the top of it. Not complimentary, is it, to give any 
one a spoon with a goose, but then mine is the goose 
which saved Rome, and that makes all the differ- 



ence." 



A charming, ancient family doctor, become a 
famous man of letters ! So light with his knowledge, 
so free of it in his talk, so elegant in body and mind, 
at more than the Scriptural three-score years and 
ten. He had written with a sensitive, delicate 
mind, and his message had come through a great, 
understanding heart, the necessary way with good 
tidings for mankind. 

By and by it was his hour for the afternoon drive, 
and the old-fashioned phaeton, with an old-fashioned 
coachman and an old-fashioned horse awaited him ; 
a cosy " one-hoss shay," " Come with me," he 
invited, " and I'll drive you to the station, and with 



NOT POET LAUREATE 

that he slipped on a summer overcoat and found 
his silk hat more stately old fashion. 

" But the sun's too strong/' called his wife. 
" Wait and I'll get you my parasol," and she did, 
a pretty thing of black silk and black lace, and with 
it held jauntily above his head we drove to my 
train. His gesture of good-bye, so gracious and 
sincere, without decoration or emphasis, was as a 
fragrance of days which are no more. 

On some morning in the Eighteen-Nineties 
this announcement appeared in a London morning 
paper : 

" We understand that Mr. William Morris has 
been offered the Poet Laureateship and has declined 
it. The invitation came through Mr. Bryce, 
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, though, of 
course, Mr. Gladstone is primarily responsible. 
The offer and the refusal do Premier and poet equal 
credit." 

Two days later the same paper printed this other 
letter : 

" Will you kindly contradict the report that I 
have been offered the Laureateship, as it is not 
true ; yours obediently, William Morris." 

What was the truth ? No doubt that Morris had 
been " sounded " by Bryce, afterwards James 
Viscount Bryce, with the knowledge, more or less, 

177 



SOME MEN OF LETTERS 

of Gladstone, and that the matter ended there. 
The incident is interesting in itself, but still more so 
as a lesson of contrast on the 'Nineties and to-day. 

A Socialist Poet Laureate ? What would Queen 
Victoria have said to that, and what would Society, 
which still boasted a capital " S " and rode in 
Rotten Row, have said ? In our year of greater grace 
we have a Poet Laureate who is as good a democrat 
as William Morris was, and his appointment, by a 
Labour Prime Minister, had a nation's welcome. 

If Morris had succeeded Tennyson, it would have 
fixed his name in the Laureate line, but his poetry 
never needed any bush, and besides, wasn't he a 
master printer ? It was as the reformer of English 
printed books that I had an afternoon with him at 
his Kelmscott Press on The Mall, Hammersmith, 
41 Well, here we are," he exclaimed merrily, as he 
entered his work-room, where I had awaited him, 
watching the Thames glide silently past. He bent 
down to the fire to light his pipe, a plain, practical 
article which quickly yielded a good stream of 
smoke, and then he was ready. 

What sort of fellow was William Morris ? 
Short, at least rather short, like John Burns, but 
also, like him, of the bull-dog breed : solidly built, 
sinewy, strong, with a beard-clad, arresting face and 
a striking head, wreathed by tangled grey hair. 

178 



THE MAKING OF BOOKS 

He wore a navy blue suit, the jacket double-breasted, 
of course, again like his friend, John Burns. The 
Morris shirt was of a brighter blue than the Morris 
suit, but he had no red tie that day, though he some- 
times sported one. 

What was his idea in starting the Kelmscott 
Press ? " I wanted to make some nice books, like- 
wise to amuse myself, and I think I may say I have 
done both. Of course, the nice books were the 
serious thing," and he blew into the mouth of his 
pipe to liven up the lazy tobacco, " Thought I to 
myself, any effort which can help us to the very 
best printing can only do good, and as a writer and 
as editor of * Commonweal/ I had come to know 
something about type. The name Kelmscott ? I 
took it from a jolly old house I go to in the summer, 
on the borders of Oxfordshire and Gloucester- 
shire." 

If you are lucky enough to have the " Kelm- 
scott Chaucer, 1 ' or some other work then printed by 
William Morris, you have only to open its pages 
to see what he was at. His prime idea was to go 
back to the age when type was admittedly best and 
also simplest. For instance, to the Venetian 
printers of 1470, who, with their Roman types, 
reached almost perfection in the mixture of beauty 
and simplicity. 

N 179 



SOME MEN Of LETTERS 

Not unnaturally he wanted to see his own poetry 
in the handsomest type, but, far more, his ambition 
was to give English classics a setting which should 
honour them. The " Golden Legend " had been 
last printed in 1527, and surely it was time that 
somebody should create a new dress for it. A 
sixteenth-century copy, if it could be found at all, 
would perhaps cost two hundred pounds, while he 
offered the Kelmscott one for ten guineas. 

Morris would be amazed to know what copies 
of his " Golden Legend " now fetch, but he had 
no complaints. He could not have forseen that a 
single one would gather value enough to buy a 
motor-car having the same name as himself ; and he 
would not have minded. It would have interested 
him more to think of the later progress, in another 
field, under the banner, " William Morris." 

" I did not expect," he said, " that I should be 
able to carry on the Kelmscott Press without loss, 
but thanks be, we have made both ends meet." 
He might have claimed that it stood for a revival 
in English printing and bookmaking, but he was 
only conscious of that in so far as he desired this and 
was working for it. He was satisfied there were 
a fair number of people in England who liked 
beautiful books, and, moreover, liked them for 
themselves, and that rejoiced him. 

1 80 



POET AND PRINTER 

There was just, I suggested, the danger that the 
English poet, piping onward as well as piping 
melody, might be lost in the English master 
printer. " But," he protested, " if a man writes 
poetry, it is a great advantage that he should do other 
work. His poetry will be better, and he is not tied 
to making money out of it. I don't believe in a man 
making money out of poetry ; no, and I don't 
believe in it for the sake of the poetry either " ; and 
then he told an appropriate little story* 

It was about a person who asked another person, 
probably Morris himself, what sort of a branch 
literature was, especially verse. " Oh," was the 
reply, " a very good branch to hang yourself 



on." 



" If," added William Morris, taking his pipe 
from his mouth with one hand and softly beating the 
air with the other, " I want to write poetry, I simply 
do it, and everything else can go to the devil. But 
it would be a jolly hard fate if one were condemned 
to do nothing except write poetry." A dictum 
calling for thought, and for memory of its deliver- 
ance, because it was rolled forth in a voice rich of 
the sounds which are England. 

There can hardly be anybody who would not 
have liked to meet, still better to know, Charles 
Dickens, great humanist and great story-teller. 

181 



SOME MEN OF LETTERS 

The next best thing is to hear of him, as he was in 
the flesh and the spirit, through somebody who 
knew him well. Percy Fitzgerald, whose vast 
Victorian industry you may consult in books of 
literary history, was a relic of the active Dickensian 
day. He served with the novelist on " Household 
Words," and thus saw much of him at close 
quarters. 

It was good to chat with this other " Old Fitz " 
about all that in the house, between Pimlico and 
Belgravia, where he spent his later years. You 
had the feeling, when you entered it, that he must 
have been there all his life, for it might have been 
a museum, and he a " museum specimen." He was 
tall and gaunt and spoke hoarsely, and his rooms 
echoed as if ghosts were falling over the undusted 
chairs on to the undusted carpets. 

Human nature being what it is, my picture of 
Percy Fitzgerald himself is a clearer thing than 
whatever picture he gave me of Charles Dickens. 
It held every pleasantness, but was wooden in the 
drawing, like Percy's writings ; and impressions so 
conveyed fade quickly. It was different, however, 
with another man who knew Dickens still better 
and with simple statements could recreate him ; 
and that was Frederic Chapman of a surname 
which sends us humming the ditty : 

182 



PUBLISHER AND AUTHOR 

" Chapman and Hall 
Swear not at all ; 
Mr. Chapman's ' Aye ' is ' Aye ' 
And Mr. Hall's ' Nay ' is ' Nay.' " 

Dickens's publishers, of course, so Frederic 
Chapman, cousin to one of the founders, and after- 
wards himself the head, had him through hand, as 
the saying is. "It was in 1845," ^ e to ^ me > 
" that I first met the novelist, and from then on- 
ward until his death, I constantly saw him. When 
he went to stay at Gad's Hill I used to go down 
there and visit him, and so we were really personal 
friends, not merely publisher and author." A 
Dickensian platform of this quality was bound to 
yield the genuine, human stuff, so let us meet Mr. 
Frederic Chapman in his Henrietta Street room, 
with the smell of vegetables and the scent of 
flowers blowing over from Covent Garden Market, 

Dickens, he began, had charm, always an in- 
definable quality, always a gift from the gods of 
good-fortune or the gods of chance. Where did 
his charm lie ? In his conversation, or in his dis- 
position, or was it an all-round, all-over charm ? 
It was difficult to say what was the most pleasing 
thing about him, but behind everything was the 
magic of personality. For a time after he sprang 

183 



SOME MEN OF LETTERS 

into fame, he went a good deal into society, whereas 
in his later years it saw little of him. He hardly, 
perhaps, at any period, cared to be " lionised," for, 
by nature, he was essentially simple. 




A drawing of Charles Dickens, from a photograph of him taken in 
1868 and engraved in 1870, the years, or thereabout, to which there 
apply the personal memories of him communicated to us by his friend 
and publisher, Frederic Chapman. 

At Gad's Hill, his Kent home, he lived in good 
style, and he had many notable people visiting him, 
yet his tastes remained simple. His talk, which 
ran naturally, easily, was fascinating and full of 
anecdotes and incidents about folk he had met and 

184 



HOW DICKENS WROTE 

places he had seen. And, please, at Gad's Hill 
there was no sitting by the men at the dinner-table 
after the ladies had left. Within a few minutes 
Dickens would be on his feet, leading the way to the 
drawing-room. He was chivalrous and kind- 
hearted, and therefore thoughtful of his guests, 
whoever they might be. 

" When,'* I asked his publisher and friend, 
" did he write ? Morning, forenoon, afternoon or 
evening, b^Nuse writing habits, like bad habits, 
become fixed, and they tell us about the writer ? " 

" Mostly," was the reply, " between breakfast 
and lunch, when he would disappear to his study, 
afterwards made so familiar by the picture of the 
empty chair at Gad's Hill. In the afternoon he 
would arrange a walk or a drive for us, though he 
did not strike me as especially fond of driving. 
But he had a real love of walking and would think 
nothing of starting an eight-mile tramp a couple 
of hours before dinner. Once, I remember, after 
dining with Mark Lemon and other friends in Lon- 
don, he walked all the way home to Gad's Hill, I 
suppose thirty miles or so. I'm not sure whether it 
was not on this occasion that a curious experience 
befell him " ; and the recollection meant a new 
Dickens story. 

He saw a man taking down the shutters of a milk- 
185 



SOME MEN OF LETTERS 

shop, and he went in and asked for a glass of milk 
and, for payment, proffered a shilling. " What do 
you mean ? " quoth the milk-man sharply ; " it's a 
bad shilling." Dickens looked at it, and unques- 
tionably the coin was discoloured, and for that 
reason suspicious. 

He took out the rest of his money and, lo and 
behold, it was all similarly discoloured. The 
milk-man, thinking the worst of his callrfr, would 
have nothing to do with it and gkr,?red at him. 
Dickens tackled the position by explaining that he 
was Charles Dickens, the novelist, and on his road 
to Gad's Hill. " Charles Dickens," snapped the 
milk-man, " that tale won't wash, and you've had 
my milk." Finally, however, he was convinced 
that his customer was indeed the famous author, 
and they parted with mutual excuses and compli- 
ments. 

" Since," I remarked, " Dickens was so keen a 
walker, he, no doubt, had energetic and steady 
health ? " " Pretty good health," said Frederic 
Chapman, " except that one of his feet troubled 
him now and then, why, exactly, I don't recall. 
But nothing ever interfered with his devotion to his 
work, and when he had finished a manuscript he 
warmly interested himself in its publication. He 
was exacting with himself in his MSS., changing 

186 



THINKING A STORY OUT 

this part and interleaving that part, so that often 
it was almost indecipherable. Also he made exten- 
sive alterations to his proofs up to the moment that, 
as a book, they went out into the world," 

" Do you happen," I said, " to know on what 
system he wrote his novels, his method of con- 
struction and working out ? " " He once told me," 
answered his publisher, and who could have been 
more interested to know ? " After getting hold of a 
central idea he revolved it in his mind until he had 
fully thought it out. Then he made what I may call 
a programme of the story and its characters, draw- 
ing up each chapter in skeleton form. Upon this 
skeleton he set to work and gave it the literary blood, 
sinew and vitality of a ' David Copperfield ' or an 
* Oliver Twist/ " 

This was as near, perhaps, as one could get to 
Charles Dickens, the writer and the man, after so 
many years. All direct echoes of him tell that he 
was friendly and kindly, even with strangers, though 
he had no special gift for suffering fools gladly. 
It was, may be, an evidence of his genial human 
nature that he was rather inclined to noticeable 
clothes and jewellery. 

" You could always," said somebody to me, 
" pick out Dickens, in the Strand, by his red waist- 
coat, with a heavy watch-chain across it." Old 

187 



SOME MEN OF LETTERS 

photographs of him bear out his style in clothes, and 
there is one showing him in evening dress, the 
trousers of which have two broad rows of braid. 
His sense of the picturesque might have suggested 
two rows instead of one, or none, or it may just 
have been his version of the fashion of the day. 
Anyhow, his philosophy and his humour were ever 
his saviour, and here is an anecdote which illustrates 
that. 

A friend of his was giving a concert at the Old 
Lyceum Theatre, and went there beforehand, to 
see that everything was all right. Dickens walked 
in and found him pacing up and down in no very 
good humour. " What's the matter ? " he asked. 
" Oh," was the answer, " there's a man Smith who 
has been singing my songs, and I've written to him 
saying if the songs are worthy of that, they are 
worthy of acknowledgment." 4< Look here," said 
Dickens, " there isn't a man living who hasn't a 
Smith on his back." 

Probably he himself even found that when he 
was in Fleet Street, for, of course, he had his great 
venture and adventure there as editor of the " Daily 
News." 



188 




XIV. MY QUEEN VICTORIA 

The Lady of Balmoral where she " noddit to me" 
and was just womanly ; and the Royal Sovereign who 
stood for the rise of the British Empire and stamped 
her name upon an age of the world's history. 

UEEN VICTORIA was a little woman to the 
eye, and perhaps she was not intellectual, 
but she had both mental and bodily 
/character. This character, shaped by 
early responsibilities and cultivated by constant 
traffic with the " wise and the bold," was the 
bedrock of her personality. Her reign of sixty years 
sanctified her as queen and lady, and for these reasons 
she is embedded like granite in English history. 

And yet it was a most homely figure that I often 
saw on Deeside, when she visited it every year, 
about June, and again in August or September. 
Early in summer Royal Balmoral and its homeland, 
the Valley of the Dee, are glorious in quivering 
greens, and in the autumn they are as glorious in 
golden btowns. Queen Victoria loved the two 
pictures, and they became part of her life as we 

189 



MY QUEEN VICTORIA 

" residenters " knew it, an experience to be com- 
pleted later, by many a glimpse of her as the 
Sovereign, from Fleet Street. 

She once nearly ran me down in Ludgate Circus, 
or rather her two outriders did, and only a nimble 
jump on to a " rest " saved me. She was in a large 
landau, drawn by four bays, with postilions, a 
familiar turn-out with her, and in the rumble behind 
sat an Indian orderly, accompanied by a flunkey 
to do his bidding, which was John Brown's way. 
With the Queen was her youngest daughter, Princess 
Beatrice, her invariable companion in her later years, 
and there was also a lady-in-waiting in the carriage. 

It had come from Buckingham Palace by the 
Thames Embankment, so taking in Ludgate 
Circus, and going on at a good pace, though where 
one does not remember. That passing show is 
merely recalled as typical of the Queen ; her stout, 
broad-based figure, crowned by a black bonnet 
which never seemed to vary in shape, and only in 
colour by a touch of white trimming ; her rather 
reddish, roundish face, wrinkled by the years and 
many lines of decision ; her drooping and firm 
mouth, often set in gravity, but now and then lit 
with a slow smile ; and her sunk eyes, which remained 
clear and seeing, whether bespectacled or not, as 
the event, near, or far, might demand. 

190 



THE "WIDOW OF WINDSOR" 

A simple, plain, squarely set little " body " and 
that word is used in the kindly Scottish sense 
Kipling's " Widow of Windsor " in appearance and 
motherliness, but Queen every five feet of her, and 
let nobody think otherwise. Personality in her 
case included very definitely the gift which we call 
command, without the need for asserting it. This 
meant individual sovereignty, and she had only to 
reign through the ages, as she did, to get the halo 
of sovereignty in a more picturesque sense, from 
the far-flung British Commonwealth. She would, 
most likely, have drawn her strong, spear-like pen 
through that now accepted term and written 
" Empire," for she was old-fashioned, thinking the 
throne the golden link of union, and she its occu- 
pant. She was no democrat, and could be domineer- 
ing and prejudiced, though also, in another mood, 
understanding, sympathetic and tactful. 

She would, probably, have made an even better 
Elizabeth than Queen Elizabeth if she had lived in 
the Elizabethan time, having, besides the nameless 
quality of command, the womanly quality of intui- 
tion. She could win her way as well as take it, for 
her heart never let her forget she was a woman, a 
wife, a mother, a widow, any more than she forgot 
the crown which she wore and which she made 
secure, on a slowly remade basis, for those who 

191 



MY QUEEN VICTORIA 

have followed her. Only now, looking backward, 
do we see how that evolution was a continuous 
thread of her reign, though she kept the reins tight. 

Never, perhaps, did she say out that she reigned 
by divine right, and she had the vicissitudes of her 
father and mother, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, 
to remind her otherwise. But she must, now and 
then, as amid the sincere yet heady acclamations of 
her two jubilees, have almost felt it. Moreover, 
her early portraits, with bared shoulders, showing 
how comely they were, and nimble, silk-slippered 
feet peeping forth, tell well enough that she cared to 
be admired in youth, as well as revered in later 
years. 

That Walter Raleigh of the Victorian age, Sir 
George Grey, spoke to me of Victoria as a girl, when 
he saw her in 1837, the year she ascended the 
throne, and the year he landed to explore the almost 
unknown wilds of Western Australia. He said 
that in her youth she gave a winsome impression of 
comeliness in person, vivacity in temperament, 
promise in mental things, and taste and care in 
dress. " Who," he also said, " could have imagined 
the glorious reign hers was to be ? It was to sur- 
pass in beauty of achievement all foretelling." It 
is, however, the human question involved in the girl 
and the woman that interests us now. 

192 



A DAUGHTER OF MERRIE ENGLAND 

Might she not have remained more volatile in 
personality, while as able a queen, if she had married 
a husband less weighty in mind and serious in 
character than Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg- 
Gotha? He, we know, vitally influenced her 
development as woman and sovereign, and the 
cloud of motherhood in which she dwelt meant 
heavy domesticity. There was no time for Victoria 
to be gay in the beautiful sense we associate with 
young womanhood, or to become, by virtue of her 
position, a leader of English society and fashion. 
But one likes to think she might, under other circum- 
stances, have been a full-blown daughter of Merrie 
England, all to her good and that of her people, who, 
having won their place in the sun, are entitled to its 
warmth. 

Early memories of her at Balmoral recall the 
widow resigned, thanks to the healing goodness of 
time, if still actively sorrowing. Driving or walk- 
ing, she bore the imprint of grey and sober years, and 
did she not once say, " The great trouble, as we 
grow older, is that our intimate friends die out, 
and we make no others to take their places " ? It 
would be a definition of this to say that an old, 
intimate friend never needs explanation, but knows, 
while one made later, cannot be in that relationship. 

No more explanation is needed for the high 
193 



MY QUEEN VICTORIA 

office of trust and confidence which russet-coated 
John Brown came to hold in Queen Victoria's 
household. You had only to see him attending her 
to understand the relationship of habit and service 
between the royal mistress and the royal gillie, 
and how stupid it was for anybody to whisper 
nothings. John, as a young man of a Crathie family 
living simply, God-fearingly, and by hard toil, was 
chosen by the Prince Consort himself as personal 
attendant for his wife. 

If she could not walk, for the exercise she liked 
in the bracing Highland air, and rode instead, 
John led the pony, and if she drove, he sat in the 
rumble of the carriage, guard over her safety and 
comfort. He was thus always with her, he became 
indispensable to her, and being a man of natural 
good sense, proven loyalty and enough education 
to polish both, she talked with him and to him, for 
who that is human can be always aloofly silent ? 

Gradually he became a privileged servant, around 
whom there grew a certain atmosphere of power, 
and probably he exercised it not only in the 
servants* hall but in higher places. There is a 
Deeside story of the Queen going down to the rail- 
head at Ballater to meet her daughter, then the 
Crown Princess of Prussia, later the tragic Empress 
Frederick. On the way back to Balmoral a shower 

194 




195 



VICTORIA 

Struck the valley, as often, in those high latitudes, it 
does, while the sun is shining, John Brown 
promptly closed the hood of the carriage, although 
the Crown Princess said, " Is it necessary ? The air 
is so fresh and beautiful ? " " It is necessary, yer 
Majesty," answered John, " because my Majesty 
has rheumatics and mauna* get wet." 

John could be outspoken even when Queen 
Victoria herself was the target of admonition. 
Possibly she had learned that Scotsmen, high and 
low, when they are paying service, devotion or 
affection, are apt to be awkwardly self-conscious, 
if not oddly bashful ; and so express themselves. 
It is really a characteristic of sincerity, because it 
bubbles from the deeps, bare nature not waiting 
to be clothed in the softness and grace of artificial 
silk. 

John Brown was fond of fishing, as anyone 
brought up on the banks of the Aberdeenshire Dee 
should be, and he could fish the Balmoral water 
when and where he liked. He was having an hour 
at the salmon, the Queen wanted to see him for some 
purpose, and a messenger came pelting along with 
this news. You can fancy that messenger's homely 
but deferential, " Oh, Mr. Brown, Her Majesty's 
askin' for ye." 

John was fast in a salmon and indifferent to every- 
196 



A "CAIRN or REMEMBRANCE" 

thing else, so he just said, " Tell her Majesty that 
I'm landin' a fish, and when I'm done I'll come and 
take her commands." We don't know what the 
Queen thought, if she got John's message in that 
form, but anyhow, he never lost her confidence* 
His friends would add that he never abused it, 
because having a kindly care for his own relatives is 
not less a virtue in a plain man than in another man. 

When he died and was buried in Crathie Church- 
yard, Queen Victoria erected her " cairn of remem- 
brance " to him, a handsome granite monument. 
On it she put an inscription saying what a loyal 
servant he had been to her, and signifying her 
queenly regard for him. King Edward, as the story 
later went about Balmoral, took exception to the 
memorial and corresponding action, and surely that 
was unkingly and almost unkindly. But he made 
various changes, which could not all be popular, 
when he became the laird of a property that belongs 
privately to the Royal Family, not to the State, like 
Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. 

During the Eighteen-Nineties the Tsar Nicholas 
of Russia and his Tsaritsa, a favourite grand- 
daughter of Queen Victoria, visited her at Balmoral. 
They and their first-born were escorted from 
Ballater by a clanking troop of the Scots Greys, and 
a group of us were there to record this and other 

197 



MY QUEEN VICTORIA 

happenings. While we waited for the cavalcade, 
a voice with a lingering Aberdeenshire accent said 
to me, " Hullo, you here." It was an old family 
friend of those parts, then occupying an important 
office with the Queen, and when he explained, 
" I'm just making an official round come along," 
I answered M Surely," and presently we were within 
the grounds of Balmoral. 

It was a fine, blue-skied, mellow-mooned autumn 
night, and remarked he, " The Queen and Princess 
Beatrice are sitting at an open window waiting for 
the Tsar and Tsaritsa," His ultimate point of 
duty was outside that window, and I stood with him 
in the shadow of the light, while the Queen and her 
daughter talked within. What they said was 
sacred to the confidence reposed in me, so I only 
had ears for the beauty of the Queen's voice. 

It was an old voice in that it was sometimes low 
and sometimes hesitant, but there was youthfulness 
in its resonance and music in its timbre. Up and 
down it flowed, and one could have listened long 
enough for sheer pleasure in sound and cadence, 
apart from the unique experience of being in near 
contact, under unusual conditions, with a personality 
majestic in life and now majestic in history. 

Some legacy of the Queen's voice may, perhaps, 
be detected in that of King George V, which is 

198 



"NEWS FROM NOWHERE" 

loud and full, and rich without harshness. His 
spoken word always strikes a listener as being 
stronger than his physique, and his purely English 
accent comes out beautifully. Queen Victoria's 
talk, notwithstanding her age, was admirably clear, 
as it flowed through that open Balmoral window 
looking forth on the long, sleeping hills. 

Of news about that Highland visit by the Tsar 
and his wife, both cast for tragedy later, there was 
really none, as Fleet Street assesses news. Court 
Circulars are not inspiring, nor revealing, so it 
occurred to me, knowing the local people well, that 
I had better turn to them for likely dispatches. A 
friendly farmhouse, on a not too distant hill-side, 
supplied simple but sufficient quarters and the use 
of a dog-cart. The young men of the farm went 
beating every day with the Balmoral shooters, and 
naturally, over the high-tea, when they returned 
home, I heard all about things. 

Had the Tsar, no great sportsman by taste or 
experience, gone out with the Prince of Wales, by 
and by King Edward, the Duke of York, now 
King George, and the other " guns " of the party ? 
Or had he preferred to linger in Queen Victoria's 
rose-garden, making love to his charming consort 
and their first baby ? That pretty picture of Nicholas 
and his family set itself often enough to show that 

199 



MY QUEEN VICTORIA 

he had in him those domestic qualities which are 
reckoned the basis of a happy life. If, reluctantly, 
perhaps, he had gone shooting, was it true that he 
half-missed a stag when he shouldn't, and that it 
was getting away wounded the unspeakable thing 
in a Scottish forest as the Prince of Wales, with a 
rapid shot, bowled it over, mercifully dead. 

Dear colleagues, down the valley in their hotel, 
began to have messages from their editors in London 
saying, " Why are you silent, with so much good 
* copy * coming to one Fleet Street daily ? " 
Court officials took to reading that Radical journal 
for its Balmoral news, and generally the situation 
became a little difficult. Happily, with delicate and 
discreet management, it held together until a 
terribly wet Saturday when the Tsar and the Tsaritsa 
went away, again escorted by the Scots Greys. A 
long Sunday news-telegram made a very good 
wind-up for my journal in the Highlands, because 
your knowing Fleet Street man bears in mind, in 
another sense, the motto of the old Irish jarvey, 
M Always keep a trot for the avenue." 

My first Queen Victoria, the Lady of Balmoral, 
was perfectly pictured, while we took off our 
bonnets to her, by a Scottish journalist, Dewar 
Willock, in a little, inspired poem, " She Noddit 
to Me. 1 ' It gave the Lady of Balmoral real pleasure, 

200 



THE DEESIDE ROAD 

for that she let be known, and it should be in any 
memory of her as woman and queen ; so here it is, 
though many people may already be acquainted 
with its sensitive, " native Doric " lines : 

" Fm but an auldbody 
Living up on Deeside^ 
In a twa-roomed bit hoosie 
Wf a too-fa beside ; 
Wf my coo an' my grumphy y 
Fm as happy s a bee. 
But Fmfarprooder noo, 
Since she noddit to me. 

" Fm nae sae far past w/'V, 
Pm gie trig and hale. 
Can plant twa-three taties 
An 9 look after my kale ; 
And when oor Queen passes 
Irin ootto see 
Gin by luck she micht notice 
An* nod oot to me. 

" But Pve aye been unlucky 
An* the blinds were aye doon> 
Till last week the time 
Q* her veesit cam 9 round ; 
2QJ 



MY QUEEN VICTORIA 

/ waves my bit apron 

As brisk' s I could dee 

An* the Queen lauched fu' kindly 

An* noddit to me. 

" My son sleeps in Egypt y 
It's nae eese to fret L , 
An' ye^ when I think o't 
Tm sair like to greet ; 
She may feel for my sorrow. 
She's a mither^ye see. 
An' may be she kent o't 
When she noddit to me'' 

My second Queen Victoria, the Sovereign of the 
Realm, I saw for the last time on her eightieth 
birthday, which she celebrated at Windsor Castle. 
Surrounded by her family, all tenderness and care 
for her, she was serenaded with madrigals, as 
Queen Elizabeth was serenaded in her time, and 
indeed that was the idea. It was a spacious 
idea, suggestive of a historic figure and a 
historic age with which her own personality and 
her own reign might ultimately be compared, and 
no doubt she liked it, for otherwise would she 
have accepted it ? 

Massed choirs stood and sang beneath the 

202 




Queen Victoria as an Old Lady 



By Courtesy oftheArtis 



A SALUTE IN SONG 

windows of the homely Oak Room, while the Queen 
took her simple breakfast there, and from the 
quadrangle we could watch her, not as through a 
glass darkly, but quite clearly. On her head she 
had a white lace cap such as she always wore in- 
doors, and round her neck, and falling down over her 
black dress, was a heavy Victorian gold chain. 
Her rheumatism, with her for long, had so increased 
that indoors, as out-of-doors, she made use of a 
wheeled-chair, but neither that nor the presence of 
four-score years stood between her and the earnest 
discharge of what she regarded as her Sovereign 
duties. 

Madrigal and song rose on the still May morning 
air, and she listened closely, now and then exchang- 
ing a word with her ladies. It would not have been 
the historic, " We are not amused," with which she 
silenced an unfortunate courtier, too anxious to be 
interesting. Perhaps it was just recognition of the 
words of one piece, or the music of another piece, 
and certainly it was smiling appreciation, in parti- 
cular, of an additional stanza written by the late 
Mr, Arthur C. Benson for this Windsor rendering 
of her " Jubilee Hymn." It was by her special 
command that he had composed the verse, and it 
well caught the solemn, yet glad, note of the 
occasion : 

203 



MY QUEEN VICTORIA 

" O loving heart) through fourscore years 

Of royal self-surrender, 
Through gracious toil, through faithful tears. 

Most sorrowful^ most tender, 
In loving hope, in steadfast might, 

Unnumbered hearts enfold Her 
On to the home of life and light, 

God guard Her, God uphold Her ! " 

She had lived three great, consecutive, contrast- 
ing pictures : from childhood to blithesome youth ; 
from youth to sorrowful middle age ; from middle 
age to venerable and venerated old age, and she 
had been mistress of them all. " We see," wrote 
Mr. Benson and the late Viscount Esher when they 
edited the first series of her " Letters," " one 
of highly vigorous and active temperament, of 
strong affections and with a deep sense of re- 
sponsibility, placed at an early age, and after a 
quiet girlhood, in a position, the greatness of which 
it is impossible to exaggerate. We see her char- 
acter expand and develop, schooled by mighty 
experience into patience and sagacity and wisdom, 
and yet never losing a particle of the strength, the 
decision and the devotion with which she had been 
originally endowed." That is a prose version of 
the stanza with which the " Jubilee Hymn " ended 

204 



HER MAJESTY'S THANKS 

at Windsor Castle on the morn of her eightieth 
year. Its thought was still in our minds as we 
listened to the last madrigal of this touching 
Victorian serenade ; listened and then waited. 

Silence, an expectant silence, and the venerable 
Queen appeared at one of the windows of her Oak 
Room and bowed her thanks. She was not con- 
tent to do that only, but said, simply, feelingly and 
audibly, " I am very much obliged to you all." It 
was still the voice of music and majesty, and not 
until a year later was it quenched in death, the only 
adventure that could be greater than Queen Vic- 
toria's life. 



205 



XV. A VICTORIAN PEEP-SHOW 

Coleridge and " Old Fang " ; Dean Stanley, 
Charles Spurgeon and other divines ; Holman Hunt 
and " Israel a Nation " ; Cardinal Vaughan and 
world peace ; Henry Russell and " Cheer, Boys, Cheer " ; 
and Lord Randolph Churchill and " Labour" 

AN interesting thing about the Eighteen- 
Nineties and the Nineteen-Hundreds 
was that they still held on to the old men 
who had made history and at the same 
time welcomed the young men who were to make 
it. This bridge worked in Fleet Street, which is 
a lighthouse alike on the past and the future, for 
he who runs reads a newspaper, whether he studies 
books or not. There have been highly placed 
men who said they did neither, but they were only 
telling a story, which anybody can do. 

A veteran celebrity of the City of London, 
famous for his good stories, a different matter, was 
" Hang-Theology-Rogers," otherwise the Rev. 
William Rogers, Rector of St. Botolph's, Bishops- 
gate. On some occasion he had said, as he told me, 

206 



OLD, FAMILIAR FACES 

" Hang the theological question, hang the economi- 
cal question, let's get on." He and the Premier 
Earl of Rosebery were friends, with a common 
sense of humour to hold them that. Many a quip 
and crank they had, but what we are at is the 
circumstance that, as a boy, " Hang-Theology- 
Rogers " had known Coleridge, the poet. 

" Oh yes," he told me, " he was intimate with 
my father, and used to come and sit in our place 
in Bloomsbury, and afterwards at Hampstead, 
for whole days. Almost I can still see him, with 
his mass of white hair, and looking altogether a 
poet. He was, I learned by my boyhood acquaint- 
ance with him, very fond of children, and he would 
chat amiably to us by the hour," 

Many writers contemporary with Coleridge 
visited " Hang-Theology's " father, who was one 
of the police magistrates at the ancient court in 
Hatton Garden. " Often, when I was home from 
school on holidays," he said, " I went to the court 
with my father, and I saw Charles Dickens, who was 
then a reporter there. No doubt he got his inspira- 
tion for Old Fang, in c Oliver Twist/ from another 
police magistrate who was on the bench at the same 
time as my father." " Hang-Theology " pulled 
at his memory for the name Lang Mr. Lang 
and having got it filled out this Dickensian page : 

207 



A VICTORIAN PEEP-SHOW 

" The Police Court at Hatton Garden was very 
small and there were waits between the hearing of 
cases. The only accommodation, apart from the 
court-room, was a waiting-room, and it was, 
somehow, thought rather unsanitary. The gather- 
ings in it were sometimes motley, as you can 
imagine, and vinegar was burned to keep down the 
smell. During the waits my father invited the 
reporters to stay in the court-room, and he would 
sit chatting with them. But Lang, when he was on 
duty, turned them out of the court-room into the 
smelly waiting-room or the draughty passages, and 
that contributed to Dickens's picture of Old Fang." 

All Fleet Street could not rescue that story 
to-day, because the testifier has long been no more, 
nor could it go, however post haste, to Tunbridge 
Wells, and hear, from the Rev. Dr. John Stoughton, 
then retired and eighty-six, reminiscences of the 
funeral of William IV and the coronation of Queen 
Victoria. More, he remembered the arrival of the 
news of the Battle of Waterloo at Norwich when he 
was a boy. It was brought by the mail-coach and 
a whole to-do of rejoicing followed, with flags and 
banners flying in the day-time and at night a huge 
bonfire, in which an effigy of " Nap " was burned. 

Naturally, Dr. Stoughton knew most of the 
great preachers who gave pulpit eloquence to 

208 



DOCTORS OP DIVINITY 

Queen Victoria's reign, especially the Nonconform- 
ists, a word which now is almost as little used as 
the expression, " Nonconformist conscience." There 
was Jay of Bath, who was a " Dr.," and said, " I 
only call myself Doctor when I am travelling, 
because as such I find the porters take more care of 
my luggage." There were James of Birmingham, 
Raffles of Liverpool, Binney, Guthrie, Irving, 
Chalmers and other lights of earnest evangelistic 
religion. 

Binney, Dr. Stoughton recalled, was tall and 
majestic, with a masculine intellect and a gift for 
interesting young men. Guthrie's strong point 
was his felicity of illustration, but he got rather deaf, 
and after meeting Queen Victoria at Princess 
Louise's marriage to the Marquis of Lome, he 
said, " She was very gracious, but I really could not 
catch her remarks." Irving, tall and with heavy, 
black hair falling over his shoulders, looked like one 
of the old prophets risen from the dead. Chalmers 
was so troubled by his popularity that once, to make 
a diversion, he announced, " Next Sunday I shall 
preach the same sermon again." Next Sunday 
came, and so did a still larger congregation, but not 
many parsons, even the Victorians of a religious 
age, have had an experience like that. 

Old Dr. Stoughton's roll of friends included 
209 



A VICTORIAN PEEP-SHOW 

Dean Hook, " a brother historian " ; Archbishop 
Tait, thoughtful and shrewd ; Archbishop Magee, 
extraordinarily eloquent and rapid of speech ; and 
Dean Stanley, whom he often visited. " He would 
come up to my bedroom, stand against the mantel- 
piece and tell me stories. He was not witty in the 
ordinary sense, but he had a most pleasant narrative 
humour." These were English Churchmen, and 
for the Roman Church there was Cardinal Manning, 
always soft and amiable, a statesman in handling 
affairs and a diplomat. Back again to Noncon- 
formity with Spurgeon, whose rich, natural humour 
was a definite element in his success as a preacher, 
though, said Dr. Stoughton, " His sledge-hammer 
style of disposing of a point was, perhaps, too much 
for some hearers/' 

Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, in a 
drab, frowsy corner of London, was one of its 
" lions " until the early 'Nineties, when he died in 
the south of France. His father, the Rev. John 
Spurgeon, who survived him, had some revealing 
memories for me of his greater son, as a boy. He 
was found one day in the manger of a stable address- 
ing an imaginary congregation, and he was still 
young when he became " converted." On a 
Sunday morning he attended the Primitive Metho- 
dist Chapel at Colchester and heard a local preacher 

210 




Passmorc and Alabaster. 

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Victorian Preacher 



A SPIRITUAL TALE 

expound the text, " Look unto Me." In the even- 
ing he attended the Colchester Baptist Chapel with 
his mother, and afterwards the family sat at home 
reading the Bible and talking. 

" Come, boys,'* said the father eventually, " it's 
time to go to bed," and Charles answered, " I 
don't want to go to bed yet ; I want to speak with 
you." They spoke far into the night, Charles 
saying, " I found salvation in the text of this morn- 
ing, and in the text of this evening, ' Accepted in 
the beloved,' I have found pardon and peace." 
Father and son joined in prayer, for to both it was as 
if Christ were come to them in Essex. 

A long-ago spiritual tale that, but perhaps it 
has never been thus told before ; and the hearing of 
it at all could only have been Victorian. For then 
religion was a crusade, whose knights proclaimed 
their battles, and Charles Spurgeon was a powerful 
soldier of the Cross, as he understood it* More- 
over, in a literal as well as in a spiritual sense, " He, 
being dead yet speaketh," because his sermons 
continued to appear weekly, long after his death, 
and to-day they and his " John Ploughman's Talk " 
are still in world-wide demand, 

" The Light of the World 1 " That is the famous 
picture by Holman Hunt, the Pre-Raphaelite artist, 
and to recall it and him is to make a link with diverse 
p 211 



A VICTORIAN PEEP-SHOW 

Victorian people and events. For one thing he 
cried in the wilderness that Israel should be re- 
planted in Palestine, and to-day this is an actuality. 

" You see," said Holman Hunt to myself, " I 
lived a great deal in Jerusalem in connection with 
my work as a painter, and the sentiment and practi- 
cability of the idea struck me there." He spoke of 
the beauty which would lie in the realisation of the 
Scriptural prophecy and of the immense appeal there 
would be to men's hearts and minds in the coming, 
at last, of the Jews into the Promised Land. Here 
was prophecy based on Scripture and the crumbling 
of the Turkish Empire of " Abdul-the-Damned," 
as Sir William Watson indicted that Sultan in a 
well-remembered series of poems. 

Holman Hunt, in his artist's house in Kensing- 
ton, looked the prophet as well as the artist, gentle, 
dreamy, benevolent, with the full beard of Victorian- 
ism, in his case grown from brown to grey. He 
was not even then the only prophet, nor perhaps 
was he the first prophet, of Israel to become a nation 
again. Merely I cite jiim, having met him, as one 
more striking witness to the ideas and plans for a 
different, and, as was hoped, better world, which 
were germinating in his later years. 

" Laurence Oliphant," he told me, " had a 
scheme for raising capital in order to get land for 

212 



BAG AND BAGGAGE 



settling the Jews in Palestine, and I once talked with 
him about it in the Athenaeum Club. A somewhat 
similar notion was associated with Dr. Theodore 
Herz, at least in so far as it would leave the Turk 
in control. Now I hold," and the artist of " The 
Light of the World " spoke boldly, " that you may 
as well do nothing if you leave the Turk with any 
power whatever in Palestine." He must go, in 
the Shakespearean phrase, " bag and baggage," 
which Gladstone made a slogan and which was here 
used by another Victorian who had the fire of 
ideals in him. 

The New Palestine of the Jews has not come as 
Holman Hunt heralded and argued it, but out of 
the volcano of the Great War. Prophets, however, 
are justified by the things they prophesy, not by the 
manner of their arrival, and that calls up the League 
of Nations. True, it is post-Armageddon in its 
being, but were the seeds of it not sown in the last 
years of the nineteenth century by England and 
America when they were discussing an arbitration 
treaty ? About it I had a conversation with that 
most English Prince of the Church of Rome, 
Cardinal Vaughan, and his personality and pre- 
sence linger like a picture with me. 

He belonged to an old aristocratic English 
family, and he looked the lineage, especially in his 

213 



A VICTORIAN PEEP-SHOW 

Cardinal's robes, but he was courteous and friendly 
as well as courtly. There could not be a greater 
contrast than that between him and the ascetic, 
almost haggard Manning whom he succeeded, but 
his outlook in some things was not less sympathetic 
and anticipatory. So he was all for arbitration as 
the way to settle disputes between nations, not by 
resort to arms. So, also, the English-speaking 
nations, by showing the way, were being worthy of 
their great mission in the world. It was " blazing " 
the path along which civilisation should march, and 
in that it meant a new blessing for mankind. 

We have, since then, travelled roughly, may be, 
but far, on this road, and it is gracious to go back 
to men who had to do with the setting out. Take 
as a cross-light in it all that early Victorian master 
of English melody, Henry Russell, and what he told 
me ; that the ever-popular song, " Cheer, Boys, 
Cheer ! " was intended to keep merry the hearts of 
British people, who, when it was written, were emi- 
grating in crowds to America. 

Emigrate 1 Tear up homes ! Break up families 1 
Send our best folk over-sea 1 And thus solve social 
problems in the Old Country, by evading them 1 
A harsh doctrine, in line with hard-faced Victorian 
capitalism, and the tears of it are still salt in many a 
family. It would sound a strange doctrine to-day, 

214 



SONG AND MUSIC 

but then Henry Russell, father of William Clark 
Russell, the sea novelist, also sang of" A Good Time 
Coming. 1 ' 

It is a gleam on the condition behind mid- 
Victorian emigration that the composer of " Cheer, 
Boys, Cheer ! " and his friend, Charles Mackay, its 
writer, sold the music and the words for half a 
guinea. " Not an extraordinary sum," Henry 
Russell recalled with a laugh, "for a song which 
goes round the world and back again. But as times 
then were with us, a guinea was a lot to get for a 
song and music, and as you understand, we did not 
always get it. The Crimean War was on, and 
" Cheer, Boys, Cheer ! " was for our soldiers there 
and going there, as well as for civilians emigrating. 
A bare time for living, in general, but Henry Russell 
struck into it with the cheerful notes of " Britannia, 
the Pride of the Ocean," and " A Life on the Ocean 
Wave," which he composed in America and 
dedicated to Fenimore Cooper, the novelist. 

He had the good cheer of other eminent friend- 
ships ; Thackeray, who was amiable, though he 
could be satirical in conversation ; Bulwer Lytton, 
who had a fine conceit of himself, yet an attractive 
personality ; Landseer and Cattermole among 
artists, and among the Victorian humorists, Mark 
Lemon. Also Russell was chorus-master at the old 

215 



A VICTORIAN PEEP-SHOW 

Her Majesty's Theatre in the Haymarket, when 
Taglioni danced and Jenny Lind, the " Swedish 
Nightingale/' sang there. Of the first he said 
that she was a beautiful woman with a handsome 
figure, a superb grace of carriage and a dainty 
modesty in her dancing. Of the second that she 
was rather plain in appearance but singularly kind 
and winning ; and oh, her singing 1 

Every age, no matter what it may be otherwise, 
sees some art perfectly achieved, and always there 
is the tramp of mankind marching forward, though 
it may not always be heard, A British Labour 
Party which might become the British Government 
would have been a wild dream in the placid, keep- 
your-place Eighteen-Fifties, but signs of it became 
apparent to close observers in the Eighteen- 
Nineties, Perhaps Lord Randolph Churchill had 
the second-sight which is foresight in a statesman ; 
anyhow, it was about the faintly stirring tide of 
Labour as a political force, that I saw him at his 
house in Connaught Place, near the Marble Arch. 

Mr. Winston Churchill s father was, in some 
ways, even a more remarkable man than he is, and 
we know his many sides. Lord Randolph had the 
same original and imaginative mind, the same 
courage and dash and the same faith in his own star. 
He had not the son's literary gift, or at all events 

216 



THE ELDER CHURCHILL 

he did not prove it in many books. But he was a 
devouring reader of anything that interested him, 
from a blue-book to a sensational novel. A London 
bookseller who knew him well said that literally he 
tore through the pages of a work and mentally tore 
the heart out of it. What was the attitude of a 
mind so acquiring, to the Labour Movement then 
beginning, as, looking backward, we can now clearly 
perceive ? 

Lord Randolph stood up from a sort of desk- 
table at which he had been sitting and which was 
covered with books and papers, and said pleasantly, 
" Good morning ; take a chair," He was older 
in years, and much older in appearance, than when 
he inspired the Fourth Party in the House of 
Commons. Much had happened since he re- 
signed the Chancellorship of the Exchequer, for- 
getting Goschen, and causing his chief, the Marquis 
of Salisbury, to say, or so it was gossiped, " Like a 
carbuncle ; better without it. " But Lord Ran- 
dolph had just returned from a rest holiday in 
Egypt, and he was bronzed of face and keen of eye. 

His windows looked across Hyde Park, and while 
he chatted he would now and then turn towards the 
greenery of the grass and the fragrance of the 
trees. A lady, striking in face and figure, came in, 
passed a smiling word with him and was gone again 



A VICTORIAN PEEP-SHOW 

like a vision. It was Lady Randolph, whose bright 
mind, housing a natural literary expression, min- 
gles with that of Lord Randolph in their eldest son. 
If he does not inherit her wonderful good looks, 
perhaps it is on the just ruling of Providence that 
it is not well for mortals to have everything, even 
when they mean to be immortals. 

" Labour " was a stranger word than " Trade- 
Unionist " in the 'Nineties, and " Socialist " simply 
meant a red flag in Hyde Park and rioting in Tra- 
falgar Square. Not, however, in that raw way, to 
Lord Randolph, who discussed them with his quick 
flair and his penetrating intelligence. He sketched, 
in brief, sharply cut sentences, a good deal of what 
was actually to happen in English labour and public 
life. He cultivated no mantle of the prophet, had 
no consciousness of the seer with an inward voice, 
but he brought a subtle and dexterous intellect to 
bear on the gleams and shadows of a moving 
democracy. Between his thought and his word 
there was an instant community, and a slight 
roughness of voice only seemed to emphasise what 
he said. 

The Whiggism of Trade Unionism would be 
supplanted by a more democratic, more embracing 
labour movement, and it would eventually, no doubt, 
take in what was called " Socialism." This was so 

218 



A STIMULATING MIND 

wide a term that it might mean anything, or, on the 
other hand, nothing in particular, but why make it a 
bugbear ? Himself, he was for taking whatever good 
there might be in so-called Socialism and leaving 
the rest alone. Why miss a common benefit, from 
whatever faith it sprang ; because the natural law 
of the human race was progress. 

One resurrects those notes of memory alike as 
prophetic echoes from the past, and as an imme- 
diate mirror of Lord Randolph Churchill's per- 
sonality and its atmosphere in his closing years. 
His heavy moustache, latterly supported by a 
beard, was in accordance with the military tradi- 
tions of the house of Marlborough, likewise his hair, 
worn short and parted in the middle. Otherwise 
he was all mental and temperamental, even, may be, 
sometimes a " bundle of nerves/' not easy to handle 
by the heavy-weights he encountered on his political 
pilgrimage. But how stimulating he must have 
been at his best, and it was luck to meet him on the 
one-time rounds of Fleet Street. 



219 



XVI. HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP 

Arctic and Pacific story-tellers ; pawky Piper Find- 
later^ V.C* ; tragic Sir Hector Macdonald ; bold Sir 
Ernest Shackleton ; Piking Dr. Nansen ; mandarinish 
Li Hung Chang) and the kidnapping of Sun Tat Sen in 
London Town. 



r 



HERE are heroes of the hour who go out in 
smoke, sometimes even in fire, and there are 
the real heroes who achieve difficulty and 
remain ; and a man of Fleet Street comes 
into contact with both sorts, to his own diversion 
and enlightenment. 

Of the former, Dr. Cook, the American, who 
emerged from the ice barriers of the North Pole 
and swore he had been to it, was a prime example. 
He might have got away with it, for a time, if Sir 
Philip Gibbs, as a special correspondent, urged by 
an eager News Editor, had not fallen on him. Cook 
was ingratiating, had a well-told tale, and there is, in 
human nature, an innate desire to exalt a hero. But 
he had vulnerable points, as when he spoke of one 
of the Eskimo companions in his journey as " Took- 

220 



THE DE ROUGEMONT AFFAIR 

'is-'ook," or something which became that, and he 
and his yarn collapsed. 

Louis de Rougemont, with his wonderful tales 
from the Pacific, was another example of the hero, 
become only a notoriety. Somehow he was rather 
a likeable fellow and, as we now know the world, 
not the brazen romancer he was condemned as 
being. If he had used his own queer experiences 
as the basis of stories he would probably have done 
very well. He found that while people say, " Truth 
is stranger than fiction," they refuse to accept it in 
practice. 

His " flying wombats " and his other miracles, 
in the loose way he subscribed them as facts, invited 
examination, and he was a bad witness. Therefore 
he missed being the author of a new " Robinson 
Crusoe, "and fell into the not quite deserved company 
of Munchausen. With all this Henry Massing- 
ham had most to do, and those of us who were his 
colleagues will remember the resourcefulness of 
mind and the mastery of presentation which made 
the de Rougemont affair a classic " thriller " of 
Fleet Street. 

Especially my way came as modest and true a 
hero as ever there was, Piper Findlater, of the 
Gordon Highlanders, who though wounded, sat 
up and piped the " Cock o' the North " while they 

221 



HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP 

charged the Afridis at Dargai. His exploit fired 
the fancy of the British people, and he swam in much 
print, including a stirring poem in which Sir Henry 
Newbolt sang, " Gay go the Gordons to a fight. " 

When the piper came home, still ill from his 
wound, Queen Victoria honoured him in hospital 
and gave him the V.C. She could be queenly 
gracious and never more the Sovereign, because 
also the sovereign woman, than when she was 
pinning the great, little medal, called after herself, 
on a soldier's breast. A proud thing that, but 
Piper Findlater made as little of his acclamation as 
he did of his wound, and indeed, for all his mastery 
of a chanter, he could not blow a hero's horn at all. 

He was just one of those northern folk who 
encrust the job, whatever it happens to be, with a 
touch of idealism and another touch of humour. 
" Aye," he said to me, from his soldier's bed at 
Haslar, " they're makin' a great fuss about a sma' 
thing. What wid ony Hielan piper de if he wis 
knocked ower and couldna' pipe the men forrit, 
but sit up and pipe ahin' them." A plain, simple 
fellow, he understood plain, simple work and 
conduct, and he went back to those from whom he 
had come, unsophisticated and unspoilt, surely the 
happiest fate of a hero. 

Alas 1 this was not so with another Highlander 
222 



BONNIE FIGHTER" 



of rank and fame in our military life, Sir Hector 
Macdonald, whom I met on various occasions. He 
came of a good farmer family in Ross-shire, 
'listed in the Gordon Highlanders, whom Jean 
Gordon, the famous Duchess, first enrolled with 
a shilling kissed from her lips, and was one of 
the devoted little band who held Majuba Hill to the 
bitter end. Its name has almost died away on the 
obliterating and reconciling lips of time, but once 
it stood for many things. 

A Macdonald with a Christian name like 
Hector could only be a soldier born, as poets are 
born, not merely made. He went to Egypt and 
took an increasing hand in the successive battles 
waged there by Kitchener for the reconquest of the 
Soudan. At Omdurman Macdonald's Brigade, 
with " Fighting Mac," as he carne to be called, 
at its head, and his own head as cool as if it were 
packed in ice, gave a vital stroke for victory and he 
became an heroic as well as a romantic figure. 

We cheered him when he came home, wrote 
verses about his deeds, banqueted him, gave him a 
sword of honour, but never stole from him the 
amused, quizzical, grave twinkle in his brave, dark 
eyes. It said, in so many words, " I've had a 
mighty fine time soldiering, and I like your ken- 
speckle Scots faces around me, but let's be humble 

223 



HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP 

about it all and get on with the next thing/' For 
him that was an appointment in India, from which, 
a dramatic gesture, he was urgently called to com- 
mand the Highland Brigade in the South African 
War. 

After it he went to Ceylon, and from the military 
command there he one day arrived hurriedly, un- 
expectedly, in London. Just what happened in 
Ceylon, and then with Earl Roberts, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, in London, outsiders never knew, 
but it broke the heart of a great man, for Hector 
Macdonald went over to Paris and shot himself. 
He took the way out which we associate with the old 
chivalry of Japan, and no man can give his country 
more than his life. He is buried in the ancient 
capital of his native Scotland, and a pilgrim to its 
beautiful War Shrine on the Castle Rock will read 
his name into it as that of one who, had he lived 
longer, might have played a great part in Armaged- 
don. 

At one time Sir Ernest Shackleton was constantly 
in and out of a daily newspaper office in Fleet 
Street, and a word with him on the stairs, or a talk 
with him in one of the editorial rooms, was almost an 
item of the day. He looked all the traveller and 
explorer ; big and powerful in build, as if to 
rough-hew the earth ; daring of eye, with a gay 

224 



A BROWNING LOVER 

humour in it ; resolute of face, as a commander 
should be ; yet in his walk, his bearing, and his 
mental and spiritual countenance, quietly refined. 

He was a good and ardent reader, had adapted 
the knowledge thus won to himself, and he liked to 
talk about books. Robert Browning was not only 
his favourite English poet, but almost his literary 
god. His subtle readings and sonorous renderings 
of him might have enlightened and certainly would 
have stirred the one-time Browning Society. He 
always took his thumbed and scored edition of the 
poet with him on his expeditions, and no doubt it 
keeps him company in his lonely Antarctic vigil. 

At a dinner-party Shackleton's talk was the 
delight of men and the adoration of women, for 
whom he had a high chivalry and a great attraction. 
No wonder. Outwardly, physically, he was as a 
heart's god of women ; shapely, massive, sinewy, 
sure of himself, conquering ; one who could " treat 
'em rough " and be loved for it. Inwardly he had 
the soul of a child and a poet, so that in him the 
barrow-hole of the ancient " cave-man " became a 
beautiful shrine in which a noble spirit burned. 
What personality could more interest and stir all the 
folds of sex and sweetnesses which make the 
enigmatic, eternal woman ? 

" Of Nansen and the North, sing the glorious 
225 



HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP 

day's renown ! " After a talk with Dr. Fridtjof 
Nansen, who often came to London, one somehow 
thought of the ballad about " Nelson and the 
North." He was such a splendid Northerner, 
such an ideal Norseman, such a complete Viking of 
old, in modern life. Salute him as a stranger from 
" Norroway o'er the faem " and he would quote you 
the rest of " Sir Patrick Spens," and then say, in 
his sunny, merry way, " A stranger 1 But you 
wouldn't call me a stranger, would you ? " 

His stature, even in old age, when he went about 
healing the wounds of the Great War, was striking 
without being imposing, a cold word, fit only for a 
cold nature, not for him. His heart and his mind 
were large and generous, like his body, and they 
kept it active, even vigorous. When he was 
young and as erect as a six-foot oak sapling, he must 
have given the impression of whalebone lashed with 
whipcord. 

That was when he took his little ship " Fram " 
into the icy wastes of the Arctic and after many 
adventures returned to describe them. He had 
hit upon a new idea of which I remember the 
words of his own description : 

" To build a strong vessel the * Fram,' Angli- 
cised c Forward ' which would not crush in the 
ice ; to go north, on the Europe-Asiatic side, as 

226 



WEST AND EAST 

far as possible in the summer ; then to strike into 
the ice and drift with what I believe to be a current, 
across the Polar regions to the Greenland side." 

If he got to the Pole, so much the better, but his 
purpose was to make scientific investigations ; and 
his book " Farthest North," still so readable as a 
narrative, shows how valuable these were. He did 
not get to the North Pole itself, and yet, above others 
who did, we confer its white ribbon of knighthood 
on him. Why ? Because Nansen was a great 
gentleman as well as a great explorer, like our own 
Captain Scott, holder of the same precious order for 
the South Pole. 

They would, perhaps, have found it hard to ex- 
plain themselves to the Chinese mind of Li Hung 
Chang, another world character encountered in the 
discharge of Fleet Street missions. Nay, two or 
three weeks were spent in attendance on him and 
his doings when he came here, desirous to see 
England at first-hand. Hero, or Eastern historic 
figure ? He was both, in the Old China of the 
Manchu dynasty, and only the famous Dowager- 
Empress, Cathay's Queen Elizabeth and Queen 
Victoria rolled in one, surpassed him in interest and 
importance to the Western World. 

What a striking character he was, either in Carl- 
ton House Terrace, where we gave him splendid 
Q 227 



HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP 

lodging, or on the move in London. He did some- 
thing the day after he arrived which, perhaps, rudely 
expressed his stoical indifference to the Philistines of 






The signature of Li Hung Chang, written when he was in England, 
with a delicate little brush, the Chinese way. 

the West. He was in a royal landau, and he wore 
his coloured Chinese silks and satins and his man- 
darin's cap, with its peacock feathers. A crowd, 
attracted mostly, perhaps, by curiosity, awaited him 

228 



TWO GRAND OLD MEN 

in Carlton House Terrace, and what do you think he 
did, consciously or unconsciously ? He leant over 
the side of the carriage and blew his nose with his 
fingers, making such a crack in the still, expectant 
atmosphere, that a pistol might have been fired. 

Li Hung, as he quickly got to be called, never 
ceased to ask questions of whoever he met, or about 
whatever he saw, for he was a stern realist. He 
established himself as a first-class inquisitor, and 
often his questions were pointed with an exquisite 
awkwardness. He visited Gladstone at Hawarden 
Castle, but on that occasion he showed how gracious 
and courtly he could be, without abating one whit 
of his curiosity. 

He only spoke Chinese, and the English " Grand 
Old Man " was by then rather deaf, so Private 
Secretary Lo Feng Luh had a hard business translat- 
ing them to each other. There they sat, the two 
foremost elder statesmen of the West and the 
East, exchanging ideas and experiences, while we 
all stood around in the Hawarden drawing-room. 
After tea, which Li Hung Chang drank and praised, 
an unusual gesture for his Chinese stoicism, there 
was more conversation, and at the end of it Glad- 
stone and his wife accompanied their guest to the 
door of Hawarden Castle and saw him depart. 

My own last sight of the rugged old Chinaman 
229 



HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP 

was at Southampton, where he embarked for 
America, and a particular little incident stamps his 
departure on the mind. He had yielded Fleet 
Street much " good copy," and Lo Feng Luh, who 
had been educated in England, was the resourceful, 
humorous and altogether human channel who had 
distilled it to us. He was not only a perfect private 
secretary to Li Hung Chang, but almost a second 
ambassador speaking for the East to the West. 

We were all so grateful and admiring, especially 
when, at our request, he wrote us a farewell message 
to England from his master, that we had a bright 
idea. We composed a round robin to the Foreign 
Office suggesting that Lo Feng Luh should be 
honoured in some British way for his very real 
services towards Anglo-Chinese friendship. Not 
long after he was offered a knighthood, and he bore 
it with distinction when, later, and more dignified 
but always affable, he returned to London as Chinese 
Minister, 

Already the writing was on the wall of the Old 
China, and a London affair of which I was a close 
witness will always be a dramatic chapter in the 
record of Sun Yat Sen, the founder of the New 
China. It was an epic of the complete hero and 
also an epic of Fleet Street journalism, for never has 
there been a true tale which so beats all the inven- 

230 



WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN 

tions of all the sensational novelists, from Edgar 
Allen Poe to Dumas, and from " Sherlock Holmes " 
to Mr. Edgar Wallace. 

Who could have conceived such a deeply laden 
story ? for if Sun Yat Sen had gone out then, there 
probably would not to-day be the vast and vastly 
potential Republic of China. It certified that when 
it laid him, as its Father and first President, to rest 
for ever, in a splendid marble mausoleum on the 
slopes of Purple Mountain, overlooking the tombs 
of the Ming Emperors. This was his consecra- 
tion to the ages by a grateful country, and now the 
name of Sun Yat Sen can never die, though in 
London he nearly did. 

As a young man, with a Western education and 
leanings, he was for progress in China, and that 
meant being a rebel against the ancient regime and 
the ancient mandarins. He had many adventures 
and vicissitudes, and from the worst of them he 
found shelter in Hong Kong, a British possession. 
There he went on with his gospel of China for the 
Chinese people, nor did he forget it when he came 
to London on a visit. But the Old Lady of Peking, 
or her satraps, kept a covetous and designing eye on 
him, and this was how, in quiet, dignified Portland 
Place, where nothing unusual should happen, he 
had the full adventure even of his full life. 

231 



HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP 

Naturally, he met other Chinese in London, and 
one afternoon, a Sunday, I seem to recollect, he 
took a walk with several of these in Regent's Park. 
Then they all strolled down Portland Place, and as 
they passed the Chinese Legation there, the door 
opened and his supposed friends shot him inside 
before he knew where he was. Once within he was 
on Chinese territory, for it is a condition of inter- 
national diplomacy that the residence of an ambassa- 
dor or a minister is not amenable to the ordinary 
laws of the country where it may be. Sun Yat Sen 
was aware of this, and he had time, in the top room, 
wherein he was promptly lodged, at the Chinese 
Legation, to think out what it might mean to him. 

His room was at the back of the building, 
looking more or less in the direction of a house in 
Devonshire Street, where Dr. James Cantlie, not 
then knighted, lived and practised. He had, for 
years before, lived and practised in Hong Kong, 
and it was there he and his friend Sir Patrick Man- 
son acquired their mastery of tropical medicine. 
Sun Yat Sen knew Dr. Cantlie in Hong Kong, and 
indeed their original personalities and mental 
characteristics, the one a Scot, the other a Chinaman, 
had made them good friends. Here was succour 
if it could be reached, but how ? for the Chinese 
rebel was, in effect, in prison, and the Scots doctor 

232 



A SCRAP OF PAPER 



was half a street away, knowing nothing of what 
had happened to his Hong Kong friend. 

Sun Yat Sen thought and thought, as he after- 
wards told us, and then among his personal posses- 
sions he found a scrap of paper and a pencil. He 





/ it 



Sun Tat Sen's autograph, in English and Chinese, as he wrote both 
immediately after his great adventure in London. 

wrote a brief message on one side of the little sheet, 
saying where he was, and on the other side the 
address of Dr, Cantlie in Devonshire Street and a 
request to any finder to take it there. Then he 
doubled over the leaf, twisted its ends and threw it 
as far as he could out of the high-up window. He 
saw it flutter away on the winds of Heaven and they 
were a Heaven's Providence to it, for, by some 
extraordinary chance, the message was picked up 
and brought to Dr. Cantlie, who opened it and 
understood 1 



HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP 

What to do ? And to do it quickly ! Dr, Cantlie 
remembered that Mr. Henry Norman, then also 
untitled, whom he had met in Hong Kong, was the 
Literary Editor of the " Daily Chronicle." He 
went to Fleet Street to acquaint him with what had 
happened, but found he was out of town. Even- 
tually he took his news to the Foreign Office or to 
Scotland Yard, and either through this, or from 
him directly, the old, pink " Globe " evening 
paper got wind of it. Out it came with the story, 
and instantly every Chief Reporter in Fleet Street 
for the more exalted term, News Editor, had not 
come in then put his best young men on it. 

Probably there were a dozen of us clustered 
about the door of the Chinese Legation when half 
as many detectives arrived from Scotland Yard. 
The affair had been submitted to the Marquis of 
Salisbury, as Foreign Secretary, diplomatic privilege 
being involved, although it had not, possibly, been 
claimed. Anyhow, in this business, really the 
kidnapping of a man on political grounds, there 
could be no nonsense, and Scotland Yard was in- 
structed to rescue Sun Yat Sen, whatever the con- 
sequences. At the time popular imagination made 
the order, " Rescue him, by force if necessary, dead 
or alive " ; so anything might happen. 

We were the "Flying Squad" of Scotland 



SUN YAT SEN'S DELIVERANCE 

Yard and the " Flying Squad " of Fleet Street, 
there, again, anticipating a name which now means 
" something doing/' a " certain liveliness " some* 
where, or anywhere. Poor Sir Halliday Macartney 
received us, and he could never have had a more 
disagreeable job in his long service as British 
Counsellor to the Chinese Legation. We saw 
nothing of the Minister, whoever he may then have 
been, and only a whisk of the pig-tails and silks of 
alarmed and curious junior members of the Legation. 
The chief Scotland Yard officer, courteous of 
speech but resolute, tendered his authority for being 
there and demanded Sun Yat Sen. There was a 
pause for some awkward moments, and then a rather 
short, well-built Chinaman came down the stairs 
with a bewildered, inquiring smile on his face. 

It was Sun Yat Sen, brought from his top back 
room, where the hours had been as complete a 
blank to him as they had been an ordeal. He 
could not tell, when he was summoned to descend, 
whether it meant rescue or another step towards 
Old China, the Old Empress and the mandarins. 
But his eager, intellectual face quickly took in the 
situation, and the uncertainty in his smile gave 
place to sunny relief. One could not say he was 
handed over to the Scotland Yard men, because 
they just took their departure as courteously as they 



HEROES AND HERO WORSHIP 

had come, and took him with them. Outside the 
Legation, on British soil, he was a free man again, 
and we celebrated his deliverance and heard his own 
story in a little hostelry down Charing Cross way. 

Sun Yat Sen had no doubt at all that the plan, 
whatever Chinese agent may have conceived it, was 
to entrap him and send him back to his native land. 
Alive ? Then to be judged by those who had 
pursued him so desperately, and, of course, swiftly 
executed. 

Dead ? What more simple ? since Chinamen 
abroad, never losing their ancestor-worship, are in 
the habit of being taken ,home for burial. If 
another coffin passed eastward, in some ship, who 
was to know that Sun Yat Sen, the arch rebel, 
was in it, rebellious no more ? He counted it a 
miracle that he was able to tell us his adventure, and 
to some of us, in token of the happy deliverance, he 
gave his picturesque Chinese autograph, which 
now will have its value. 



236 



XVII. THE GRAND EDWARDIAN 

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales^ the ruler of 
English aristocratic society ; and Edward VII^ the 
Sovereign who linked the august queenship of Victoria 
with the democratic kingship of George V. 



M 



be the story of our time, when it 
settles into history, will regard Queen 
Victoria's eldest son and heir in two 
clear personal aspects : as a Prince of 
Wales who, for many years, reigned and ruled socially 
under that title ; and as King Edward VII, who 
reigned for only ten years as Sovereign, but, in that 
time, carved himself and his reign upon the world. 
Some people think that it would have been better 
for the world if his kingship had come sooner. But 
there were many other people who, when it did 
come, wondered how the Prince was to conduct the 
King. At this distance we can perceive that his 
personality stood not only for himself but, in some 
measure, for an epoch. Things were broadening 
out when he came to the English throne, but they 
still strained at ancient anchors. 



THE GRAND EDWARDIAN 

My first, youthful, awesome glimpse of Edward 
the Seventh was among the heathery woods of 
Deeside, where he was shooting, as the guest of a 
Scottish nobleman with estates not far from Bal- 
moral. It was largely a pheasant shoot, and I 
remember how the birds, driven by beaters and a 
strong wind, came " rocketing " over " The 
Prince/' He was always just that in Victorian 
conversation, and the short name was both a 
tribute to H.R.H., confusable with nobody else 
royal or titled, and to his personal likeableness and 
popularity. 

He was seated, or rather he rested, on one of 
those spiked walking-sticks which sportsmen stick 
into the ground and which open out into a small 
seat at the top. But when the pheasants came faster 
and faster and the Prince needed the nimblest 
service two loaders could give him, he stood up for 
the battue. It was almost that, because he was, 
though already rather stout, in the prime of his 
manhood and physical activity and a crack shot. 

He wore a knickerbocker suit of a rough, brown- 
ish cloth, a soft, greenish hat of the Tyrolean sort, 
with a jaunty little feather peeping from the ribbon, 
a stout pair of leggings and heavy black boots. He 
looked the complete sportsman and absorbed in the 
game, just as at the off half-hour for lunch he might 

238 



POPULAR READING 

have been an affable, chatty, companionable private 
gentleman. The ladies of the house-party came 
and joined in the midday meal, so giving it grace 
and a greater sociability not, perhaps, disagreeable 
to the chief guest. 

Our boyhood memories linger in detail when 
other memories fade into general pictures, but 
there could not have been a day in the Eighteen- 
Nineties when the Prince of Wales was not in the 
papers of Fleet Street, doing this or that, going here 
or there, or merely being talked about, because he 
was always " good copy." American corre- 
spondents were especially keen for anything about 
him, as indeed about royalty generally, for which, 
perhaps, he chiefly stood to democracy. 

A certain Australian Premier, who at one time in 
his career had been charged with " republican 
leanings," came to London on a visit. He naturally 
met the Prince of Wales, who asked him to dinner 
at Marlborough House and after it gave him one of 
his own special cigars to smofce. He kept it un- 
smoked, and took it back to Australia as a great 
trophy, which it was to the Prince's tact. 

His place in the realm was necessarily a platform 
which exalted him to all the world, but he definitely 
interested in himself and interested differently. 
Individuality will assert itself even on the steps of a 



THE GRAND EDWARDIAN 

throne, as we see afresh in the present Prince of 
Wales, whose delightful boyhood relationship with 
his grandfather is reflected in a story that may be 
recalled without a " Yea " or a " Nay " as to its 
genuineness. 

There was, one heard it told, a family lunch at 
Buckingham Palace, and " Prince Eddy," then 
escaping from the nursery, was among those who 
sat at table with King Edward. He looked up 
quickly as if to speak, whereupon his grandfather 
said, in a grandfatherly way, " Little boys should be 
seen, not heard." When a lull came in the general 
conversation, the King turned again to him with the 
other grandfatherly remark, " Now, what were you 
going to say, David ? " " Please, grandpa," was the 
hurried reply, " it's too late ; there was a slug in 
your salad, and you've eaten him ! " 

There is also the story of " Prince Eddy " lunch- 
ing with his grandfather and becoming fidgety 
when he had finished eating : " Now then, grandpa," 
he said with a great effort of courage, " you must 
not sit too long here, or else you'll keep Mr. Hansell 
waiting." That was his tutor, and it is not every 
boy who would refuse to keep a tutor and his lessons 
waiting. 

A bouquet of very human anecdotage only grows 
about a very human being, and from Fleet Street one 

240 



PRECISION AND DECISION 

had countless opportunities of seeing Edward VII 
in that light, both as Prince and King. On the 
throne, as we heard the whispers of it, he could be 
exacting enough, for, strangely in one who was 
otherwise most broad-minded, he had a certain 
spinsterish precision about forms and details, such 
as the absolute hang of a uniform button or the 
meticulous drop of a sword. Off the throne he 
was the " first gentleman in Europe " in courtesy 
to men and gallantry to women, as well as in carriage 
and presence. There he showed how a precision for 
form could also soften it with bonhomie and even, 
on occasion, throw it to the winds. 

Thus his friend, Lord Rosebery, attended a 
dinner at Windsor Castle in knee breeches, when 
full Windsor uniform, meaning trousers, had been 
ordered. " I suppose," King Edward whispered 
gaily in his ear, " you have come down in the suite 
of the American Ambassador/* What a pity we 
do not know Lord Rosebery's answer, for it would 
have been worthy of his ready wit. 

Again, a Lord High Steward wanted to know 
when he could present some official address to 
King Edward. He was asked if he had it with him, 
and, answering " Yes," got the request, " Why 
not present it now ? " But the Lord High Steward 
had not his wand of office, at which information 

241 



THE GRAND EDWARDIAN 

King Edward exclaimed, " Oh, never mind, take 
an umbrella," and so the thing was done. 

When Gladstone retired from his long, eminent 
service to the State, Queen Victoria let him go 
with hardly more than an official word of regret and 
recognition. That was noticed by the nation, 
which said to itself, " How different from her atti- 
tude to her favourite, Beaconsfield." It also, as 
his papers modestly testify, hurt Gladstone, an 
old-fashioned, exemplary loyalist and royalist, along- 
side his Liberalism for the people. With his flair for 
something not done, or to be undone, " The Prince " 
stepped in, and by personal gestures showed how 
warmly he regarded the White Knight of Hawarden. 

What would we not have given to listen to a 
talk between them, one a Victorian pillar of gathered 
wisdom, with a radiant voice, the other an accom- 
plished man of the world, whose voice was arresting 
rather than beautiful. No contrast of minds could 
have been more challenging, and conversation 
would have been quickened by their mutual sympa- 
thy and understanding. Ancient lights, with a 
long, steady glow, and new lights shimmering, for 
the king and architect of the Edwardians was 
intuitively modern in the sense that action, small or 
large, was his line, not theory, supported by en- 
cyclopaedic reading. 

242 



A HEARING EAR 

He was, we well understood, no fond lover or 
natural judge of books, and " The Corsican Bro- 
thers " was supposed to be his favourite play ; but 
then immediate information and actual drama were 
his at first-hand. His post-bag had close contact 
with every " seat of the mighty " in the Old World 
and the New World, and there wasn't a public 
celebrity, royalty or commoner, whom he could not 
tap on the shoulder and say, " Well, now, what's 
this you are up to ? Tell me about it." 

So it was not necessary for him to read learned 
books or attend grave plays, but what material for 
both must have been tumbled in on him from 
private sources. We may be sure he never thought 
of things in that literary light, and indeed kings and 
queens with highly intellectual tastes are not 
shown, by history, to have necessarily added to their 
own happiness or to the happiness of their people. 
But ever and always Edward could be the encourag- 
ing patron, and there is a tale, heard at the time and 
kept till now, which illustrates this in a diverting 
fashion. 

It was a lunch to mark the completion of the 
" Dictionary of National Biography," a great book 
which we owe to the late Mr. George Smith, a 
princely London publisher if ever there was one. 
True, he made a lucky investment in a mineral 
R 243 



THE GRAND EDWARDIAN 

water, still going strong, and he nobly spent his 
profits, and probably thousands more, on the mak- 
ing of the " Dictionary/' Sir Leslie Stephen was 
its first editor, and he was followed by Sir Sidney Lee, 
two good literary knights, and George Smith would 
have been a third, as everybody believed, or even a 
baronet, had he not died while the honour was 
almost on its way to him. 

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, a designation 
to which young ears are perhaps strangers, accepted 
an invitation to the lunch and made a little speech, 
which pleased even a company of " high-brows," 
His quality, as what the Americans call a " good 
mixer," ensured that, and his gift for a dignified 
intimacy which could be cordial, yet warned off 
familiarity, made the occasion both royal and human. 
Sitting beside Sir Sidney Lee, and talking easily, he 
asked, " And what is your speciality in literature ? " 

" I suppose, sir," was the modest answer, " it's 
Shakespeare." 

" A good fellow, Shakespeare," came the com- 
ment ; " stick to him." 

Either the Prince did not know that Sir Sidney 
Lee had written the classic English biography of 
Shakespeare, or, being a born, inquiring diplomatist, 
he was just asking. He could not have foreseen 
then that Sir Sidney was to write his " Life " as Prince 

244 




A. Stuart Worthy. 



liv courtesy of Henry Graves. 



Edward PII, with the Order of the Garter 



A ROYAL OPPORTUNITY 

of Wales and as King Edward VI I, and that again is a 
case of how things come about. For no man, however 
under Providence and circumstances he may control 
his career on earth, can tell just how and by whom 
only, the story of it will be written in after years. 

A memoir, study and estimate of King Edward 
was done, following his death, by Sir Sidney Lee 
for supplementary volumes of the " Dictionary of 
National Biography. 1 ' This memoir, an individual, 
detached effort to assess the King, was afterwards 
published as a book and had a large sale. King 
George, it was said, made the criticism that it did 
not, in many things, manifest full information, and, 
indeed, being without official authority, how could 
it ? Certainly Queen Alexandra objected to this 
sketch of her husband, and her advisers wanted 
various other people, who had known him, to write 
a reply, but nothing came of that. 

The end of the business was an offer to Sir Sidney 
Lee, of access to King Edward's papers, if he would 
rewrite his monograph into an adequate biography, 
and of course he grasped the chance, and a two- 
volume work resulted. Thus out of, may be, an 
adverse wind there blew a prosperous one, and 
authors, though a meritorious and deserving race, are 
not always so lucky, though, happily, they remain 
hopeful. 

245 



THE GRAND EDWARDIAN 

Some day, when the ink of history has dried, 
there must be a definitive " Life of King Edward 
VII," but most of his contemporaries will then be 
gone. As it is, you only now and then sight in 
London somebody wearing what he wore in his most 
familiar aspect. 

Striped or grey trousers, creased down the side, 
a peculiarity of his, or alternately down the front, 
like most people ; an all-square frock-coat, silk 
trimmed on the lapels, and with, most likely, a 
carnation button-holed there, or in later years, when 
fashion changed, a morning coat ; and in either case, 
a faultless, shining, tall hat, worn with the faintest, 
because unconscious, suggestion of a tilt. The tilt 
was there, too, and more piquant, when he wore a 
bowler and a lounge suit, as he did if the occasion 
was a purely personal one, or if he was travelling. 

Was his tilted hat the ancestry of the nice tilt of a 
modern soft-felt, which we associate with his 
oldest grandson ? Inheritance in character and 
characteristics is not less interesting than inheri- 
tance in station, and more delicate and subtle. 
Certainly the tilt is not new but Edwardian, and 
Earl Beatty, who also has it, proves that, for he goes 
back even to the Victorian Age. 

Edwardian costume, though heavy on men or 
women, could be smart as a first impression, as well 

246 



THE GLASS OF FASHION 

as elegant under a leisurely study. It is not so 
much what clothes are, as how we wear them, and 
the Frenchwoman long ago set that lesson to the 
Englishwoman. Perhaps King Edward, especi- 
ally in his Princedom, had a real influence in 
evolving English dress, generally, from the want of 
taste and, indeed, veritable dowdiness, into which 
it fell for some Victorian years. 

How well he dressed, the illustrated papers 
showed from week to week, but perhaps his most 
dramatic appearance in the Fleet Street mirror was 
the famous baccarat scandal of Eighteen-Ninety. 
It was not so swift in action as his illness soon after 
becoming king, the necessity for an instant opera- 
tion and the postponement of his Coronation. 
Neither was it framed in purple and gold, like 
the Coronation itself, after the anxiety of his 
gradual recovery. All that was in the natural 
order of human life and kingship, but the 
baccarat scandal was, by the very surprise of it, 
revelation, and revelation excites, provokes, even 
exasperates. 

An officer of the Guards, bearer of an old name, 
friend of the Prince, charged with cheating at cards 
at a country house-party ; H.R.H. himself one of 
the players, and later one of the witnesses in court ; 
why, all the moralities and all the consciences cried 

247 



THE GRAND EDWARDIAN 

out, some sorrowfully, others angrily. More, the 
play was with H.R.H.'s own counters, apparently 
carried about for the purpose ; all surely the most 
damning evidence of light-hearted depravity in the 
highest Society 1 

Really, as he told Archbishop Benson, the 
counters were carried and used to guard against 
unduly high play. But how was public opinion 
to know that, because princes cannot address con- 
fidences or explanations to it. Modern public 
opinion, we may suppose, would judge the whole 
affair with a larger perspective and less severity. 
We have learned that we must not be content to 
locate the mote in another's eye, whoever he may be, 
and righteously leave it there, but mercifully pick it 
out for him, if we can. 

At all events the Prince of Wales came through 
this ordeal, as he came through others, without loss 
of either popularity or prestige, and his very 
humanness endeared him to doubting subjects. 
Cards, certainly when they are bridge, have to-day 
become almost a token of the domestic virtues, if they 
are not positively a hall-mark of what genuine spin- 
sterhood remains in the world. Thus a talk of a 
rubber King Edward played, or was said to have 
played, in a fashionable London house can be told 
or retold without reflection on anybody, 

248 



THE HUMAN TOUCH 

It was a winter afternoon and getting dark, and the 
hostess, a witty as well as a beautiful lady, turned to 
the royal guest and said, " Sir, if you'll allow me, 
I'll call for lights I can't distinguish the king from 
the knave 1 " He would have nodded his consent 
with a twinkle in his eye, for he enjoyed a joke even 
when he was in it, if it did not go too far and be too 
free. Then ? But that's a story which used to be 
told about another famous beauty and now is dis- 
credited, so let it rest. 

One has no business to live through a time of 
history, starred with notable and illustrious figures, 
and not have some personal ideas about it and them, 
however imperfect or wrong they may be. Was the 
Edwardian Princeship, though " cribb'd, cabin'd 
and confin'd " by the Great Victorian, Queen 
Victoria, not a humanising influence in a hard, com- 
mercial, get-on or get-out England ; the England 
which made Samuel Smiles's " Self Help " a " best- 
seller " ? Was the Edwardian kingship not, by and 
large, and naturally, rather than deliberately, a 
stimulating clear-up of the monumental in Victorian- 
ism, for it had a lot of that ? 

You recollect Mr. Lytton Strachey, as he con- 
templated writing his " Queen Victoria," being 
supposed to say, "I'm taking a flat opposite the 
Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens in order 

249 



THE GRAND EDWARDIAN 

to do it ! " That anecdote, of doubtful authenticity, 
does suggest a pervading note of the Edwardian 
Princeship and its larger advance in the Edwardian 
Kingship. For here was a personality in which 
the last of the Royal Grand Seigneurs united with 
the first instinctive Sovereign of Democracy. 

We are not less king's men than those who went 
before us, only kingship is different : not a relic of 
divine right, but the heart of a commonwealth. 
Almost it proclaims, in a way Tennyson scarcely 
foresaw, that " simple faith " can be more than 
" Norman blood, " and clearly this subtle, adaptive 
change began under the Grand Edwardian. There 
he was, crowned, sceptred, set apart, but he knew 
how, when the trumpets sounded, to descend and 
open the portcullus. 

British Sovereign and British people, as we can 
see now, were to have their full family union that 
wonderful summer afternoon when King George V 
returned to London after his long illness and con- 
valescence. Not the outwardness of it all, though 
that was touching and fine, but the inwardness of it, 
inspired by the tender motherliness of London. 
If other capitals have their own qualities, Paris or 
Vienna, Rome or New York, none of them is so 
motherly as London. And her fond greeting to 
King George, Queen Mary and their Royal Family 

250 



KING OF THE FAMILY 

was also was it not ? the writing of another 
historic page in the Golden Book of the English 
throne and the English people. 

Think what a great and beautiful thing came 
about in our quiet, almost casual, but always in- 
stinctively right way. It may not have been 
apparent at the emotional moment, but historians 
of England will reflect that while Queen Victoria 
was the August Monarch and King Edward the 
Illustrious Sovereign, George V became King of the 
British Family at home and overseas. 

Our great kings and queens have each stood for 
something individual, and therefore historic, in a 
far-flung story of Motherland and Empire. Nothing 
that has been in the past can outmatch, in glorious 
purport, this modern enthronement of the King as 
the true head, humanly, of the British Common- 
wealth, as well as its Sovereign Lord. Thus the 
British constitution, .miraculous because unwritten, 
evolves with harmony and adapts itself in affection 
to the needs of the Commonwealth. 

The reign of Edward VII was a rich chapter in 
this happy consolidation, just as it stood for a 
fresher, better comity with foreign nations. Such 
is allowed, and other good achievements, but 
Edwardian Society is charged with various pecca- 
dilloes, perhaps truly enough. 

251 



THE GRAND EDWARDIAN 

Particularly it is said to have had its ugly little 
foibles, its " red lights," and that to these sins it 
added the other of hypocrisy. Was there not an 
American woman doctor, invited to an English 
country house-party who said, " Well, I was the 
only lady there who didn't ask for her room to 
be changed " ? 

Then Edwardian Society or, in other words, 
English aristocracy, slowly " crashing," could be 
self-satisfied and selfish, empty, trivial and wasteful, 
enjoying itself and thinking nothing of the morrow. 
But it had individuality and sparkle, dignity and 
grace, and for these, life being transitory and death 
eternal, many things can be forgiven. 

It could also laugh, not only in private but 
publicly, having little of the self-consciousness on 
which vanity thrives. When King Edward's 
Coronation Procession was in Piccadilly, some man, 
catching sight of the late Duke of Norfolk, in his 
cap and robes as Earl Marshal, said, " Bli'me, mate, 
here's the King o' Clubs." 

This struck so perfect a picture of the black- 
bearded, square-shouldered little Duke, that every- 
one within earshot laughed loudly. The laughter 
became a roar of cheers as the newly crowned King 
of Hearts passed, and when he passed in death, 
London went black in an hour. 

252 



XVIII. THOMAS HARDY AT HOME 



The famous English novelist in his native 
a homely^ simple^ shy genius ; and a striking conversa- 
tion there^ about ancient Stonehenge^ where his Tess 
and Angel Clare spent their last hours together. 



i 



*aHE years that take the best away, Give 
something in the end." It is not always 
like that in Fleet Street, Rupert Brooke. 
But it does give opportunities for precious 
things, and my first meeting with Thomas Hardy 
came that way. 

Stonehenge for sale 1 Stonehenge in the market I 
This was the rumour and alarm, one fine afternoon 
of the dying nineteenth century, and naturally it set 
the country agog. We may keep our national 
sentiment deep down in us, but when it stirs, it 
stirs the more for that reason. 

44 God knows," wrote Samuel Pepys, after a visit 
to the relics of the Temple of the Winds on Salis- 
bury Plain, 4< what their use was. They are hard to 
tell and yet may be told." 

We know far more about them than was known 

253 



THOMAS HARDY AT HOME 

in his age, but their chief interest to many people is 
that here the great drama of Thomas Hardy *s " Tess 
of the D'Urbervilles " was played out. Tess, the 
law dogging her steps, and Angel Clare were on 
their last, passionate journey, and they entered the 
dark loneliness of Salisbury Plain. 

" What monstrous place is this ? " said Angel. 
" It hums/' said she. " Hearken I " 

If Stonehenge, a national relic, and now a literary 
monument, was in doubt, the one man to consult 
about it was Thomas Hardy, down there in Wessex, 
which he had rescued from history and made a new 
human kingdom for the world. So to Dorchester 
went I, with an introducing and befriending word 
from someone who knew the great novelist, always 
very timorous of appearing in public, except through 
his books. 

With Stonehenge in danger it was different, as he 
said when I found him at his home, Max Gate, set 
on a brow of ground, lifting from Wessex. He 
might, he smilingly agreed, fairly be called upon to 
speak about Stonehenge at such a moment, and with 
that he led me across his pleasantly natural garden 
to a summer-house where we could talk. 

" Here," he said in his low, slow, even voice, 
looking at me with his quiet, steady in-taking eyes, 
" we have both shade and the open air, two grateful 

254 



A "MUSING EYE" 



things." For the sun was hot that August day and 
Wessex was drowsy under it, but Hardy was alert 
and alive on the question of Stonehenge. 

He was then fond of bicycling, was in its rig-out, 
and this may have suggested his remark, " Oh, 
Stonehenge is only a bicycle ride from here." He 
glanced at me with a " musing eye," his own ex- 
pression about himself, as if he half expected me to 
ask for the loan of his bicycle and go there. No 
such energy had I, but years later, on the verge of 
eighty, he had enough to bicycle up a hill, and was 
surprised that the effort tried him. 

On my journey from London I had dipped into 
" Tess " again, and I mentally contrasted its warm 
colourfulness with the author's grey coolness. He 
was in good health, in as evident spirits as he ever 
had, for he was never gay or demonstrative, and he 
was at the high-top of his genius, " The Dynasts " 
period, when he was practising his precept, 
" Poetry is emotion put into measure. The emo- 
tion must come by nature, but the measure can be 
acquired by art." 

He might, however, in appearance, have been a 
matter-of-fact Wessex yeoman, or, perhaps a better 
description, a " bonnet laird," as they say in Scot- 
land. Certainly in bearing, manner, temperament 
and dress he was a reflected man of the soil to which 



THOMAS HARDY AT HOME 

he inherently belonged. His foot was not only on 
his " native heath," but he was the personification 
of the Wessex he has bequeathed to us, with his own 
heart, so attached to it in life, resting for ever in its 
mother earth* 

" It is Stonehenge," Clare had whispered to Tess, 
and, exclaimed she, " The heathen temple, you 
mean,'* and he said, " Yes. Older than the cen- 
turies ; older than the D'Urbervilles. Well, what 
shall we do, darling ? " 

We know what they did, and I recalled the torture 
of the scene as I sat in Hardy's summer-house hesi- 
tating to break what seemed a spell of the novel and 
of him. " Sleepy, are you, dear ? " Clare had asked 
Tess. " I think you are lying on an altar." " I 
like very much to be here," she murmured to him, 
" It is so solemn and lonely after my great happi- 
ness with nothing but the sky above my face." 

A little later, " And they sacrifice to God here ? " 
asked she, and he answered " No." " Who to ? " 
" I believe the sun. That lofty stone set away by 
itself in the direction of the sun, which will pre- 
sently rise behind it." So they talked in whispers, 
Tess and Clare, and 

" Presently the night wind died out and the 
quivering little pools in the cup-like hollows of the 
stones lay still. At the same time something seemed 



STORY AND HISTORY 

to move on the verge of the dip eastward a mere 
dot. It was the head of a man approaching them 
from the hollow beyond the Sun-Stone." 

There were sixteen of them on the Plain, men 
who " walked as if trained/ 1 and the whole country 
was raised, but pleaded Clare, " Let her finish her 
sleep." Then by and by, " What is it, Angel ? " she 
said, starting up. " Have they come for me ? " 
" Yes, dearest," he said, " they have come." " It is 
as it should be," she murmured. " Angel, I am 
almost glad yes, glad. This happiness could not 
have lasted. It was too much. I have had enough, 
and now I shall not live for you to despise me." 

Stonehenge in the market after that 1 Thomas 
Hardy could not realise the possibility of its being 
carted out of the country by a rich American or 
anybody else. Nor was it, but there was much talk 
of the possibility and danger, and that led Hardy to a 
general observation about our national monuments. 
They always interested him, partly, perhaps, as a 
result of his training in architecture, more because 
his genius saw in them tokens of the rise and pro- 
gress of mankind, especially Stonehenge in his own 
Wessex, 

" A nation like our own," he said gravely, bend- 
ing towards me, one knicker-bockered leg thrown 
over the other an attitude of his " should have a 

257 



THOMAS HARDY AT HOME 

final guardianship of any monument which is of 
value to it as a page of history, even though the 
hieroglyphics of such monument or relic cannot be 
deciphered as yet. I don't know how this is to be 
brought about, but that the thing is right there 
should not be two opinions. We assume, in fact, 
that the owner of a property on which there happens 
to be a national relic is, in the larger sense, the 
custodian, for the nation, of that relic. It is possible 
to conceive circumstances in which this might be a 
hardship, only there it is." 

Here was almost the one-time architect and born 
archaeologist speaking in the careful, estimated 
manner of such men, and indeed Hardy's novels 
often have that note. He was also practical when 
he told me to suppose, for argument's sake, that the 
stones of Stonehenge were carried to America, or 
somewhere else, far from Wessex. What would 
happen ? 

They would lose all interest, because they would 
not be Stonehenge, and it would be the same with 
Stonehenge which was left. The relics being gone, 
the associations of the place would be broken, and 
all the sentiment would evaporate. It would, in a 
characteristic Hardy simile, be as if King Solomon 
had actually cut the child in two, leaving no child at 
all. 

258 




Thomas Hardy at Home in Wessex 



By Hermann Lea. 



FREEDOM AND PEELING 

With more animation, he added that if Stonehenge 
then, or later, did really come into the market, it 
should be bought for and by the nation. " Nay," 
said he, " I should welcome the opportunity because 
I have never liked the idea of its being private pro- 
perty." But there was no need to buy all the land 
about it, only a certain area ; say two thousand acres, 
as securing control of the frame of the monument as 
well as itself. It derived much from its site, the 
freedom and feeling of Salisbury Plain, and that 
element must be safeguarded. It would never do 
for anybody to get a plot of ground near-by and, 
given the humour, erect a building there. 

Sensible advice to the nation about a national 
treasure, spoken most modestly by the one English- 
man who has given ancient Stonehenge an added 
modern interest. But he never thought of that 
as he next discussed the condition of the ruins 
and the best means of preserving them. Yet 
the tone of his voice told how intimate Stonehenge 
was in his own life, how it had been an inheritance 
of his Wessex blood, almost an altar of his russet- 
coated forbears. He had always known it not 
merely as a Wessex cairn, laden with secrets of pre- 
historic times, but as a fallen house which mankind 
had anciently imprinted with the marks of hands 
and feet. Also he had made particular visits to it 
s 259 



THOMAS HARDY AT HOME 

for lights and shades of the atmosphere which Tess 
and Clare found there. 

That is how we get in " Tess " the passage, 
" The band of silver paleness along the east horizon 
made even the distant parts of the Great Plain appear 
dark and near ; and the whole enormous land- 
scape bore that impress of reserve, taciturnity and 
hesitation which is usual just before dawn. The 
eastern pillars and their architraves stood up black 
against the light and the great flame-shaped Sun- 
Stone beyond them and the Stone of Sacrifice 
midway." 

Or the other passage, following Clare's exclama- 
tion, " It hums," and Tess's " Hearken " : " The 
wind, playing upon the edifice, produced a booming 
tune, like the note of some gigantic, one-stringed 
harp. No other sound came from it, and lifting his 
hand and advancing a step or two, Clare felt the 
vertical surface of the wall. It seemed to be of 
solid stone, without joint or moulding." A " col- 
ossal rectangular pillar," then another, and, " At an 
indefinite height overhead something made the 
black sky blacker, which had the semblance of a vast 
architrave uniting the pillars horizontally." 

" Tess," the story, had a new meaning in the 
presence of Thomas Hardy, but now he was only 
speaking as one who wished to keep its " Temple of 

260 



THE NIBBLING OF TIME 

the Winds " as complete as possible. " What," 
he said, " strikes a visitor accustomed to observe the 
effect of years and weather on ruins so exposed as 
those, is that the dilapidation in progress is not so 
insignificant as may be cursorily imagined. Wet 
weather and frost are, as all know, the destructive 
factors in the case, and to the best of my recollection 
it is on the south-west face of the ruin that this 
decay goes on most rapidly." There time nibbled 
year after year, and it was only owing to the shelter 
afforded by the south-west walls to the rest of the 
structure, that any of the columns were erect ; all 
these being the ones to the north-west. 

Hardy recalled, as an occasional personal ex- 
perience, how the rain can come down on Salisbury 
Plain ; in heavy, closely marshalled order, with 
drops that seemed to pass into one's body. It was a 
wonder, remembering the downpour of long cen- 
turies and he shrugged his shoulders in realistic 
action of the thought that Stonehenge had stood 
so well. 

" Moreover," he emphasised, stretching out his 
right hand, a rare gesture, " apart from the effect of 
the water on the stones themselves, they are being 
gradually undermined by the trickling down of the 
rain they intercept, forming pools on the ground, so 
that the foundation sinks on the wettest side till the 

261 



THOMAS HARDY AT HOME 

stone topples over." Only three architraves re- 
mained on their proper pillars, and as these declined 
the architraves would slip off. The one way of pro- 
tecting the ruin from driving rains, which must 
ultimately abraid and overthrow them, was by a belt 
of plantations. 

44 But the landscape," said I. " Yes," answered 
Hardy, thinking, and then he examined this point 
in deliberate, constructive words meant to show how 
sentiment and practicability might be united. 

Against tree planting, it could be urged that most 
people consider the gaunt nakedness of its situation 
to be a great part of the solemnity and fascination of 
Stonehenge. It was by no means certain, however, 
that the country immediately round it was origin- 
ally bare and open on all sides. If it were enclosed 
by a wood approaching no nearer than ten chains 
to the bank of earth around the stone circle, the force 
of the disastrous winds and rains would be broken by 
the trees, and the duration of the ruin lengthened far 
beyond its possible duration otherwise. The objec- 
tion to a plantation would be the less in that it would 
shut out the incongruities of cultivation and agricul- 
tural buildings, which had advanced across Salis- 
bury Plain, so interfering with the eerie loneliness of 
Stonehenge. 

Thus Hardy prescribed for it, and then I sug- 
262 



THE CHARM OF STONEHENGE 

gested that, through his intimacy with it, he probably 
had a whole treasury of Stonehenge lights and 
shades. Had all these been woven into the story 
of " Tess," or did anything remain unsaid ? It was 
a question, and Hardy gave it an answer which, 
coming from him, will always have a guiding value 
and a knowledgable interest for pilgrims to Stone- 
henge. 

" The size of the whole structure," he said, " is 
considerably destroyed to the eye by the openness of 
the place, as with all such erections, and a strong 
light detracts from its impressiveness. In the 
brilliant noonday sunlight, in which most visitors 
repair thither, and surrounded by bicycles and sand- 
wich papers, the scene is not, to my mind, attractive, 
but garish and depressing. In dull, threatening 
weather, however, and in the dusk of the evening, its 
charm is indescribable. On a day of heavy cloud, 
the sky seems almost to form a natural roof touching 
the pillars, and colours are revealed on the surfaces 
of the stones whose presence would not be suspected 
on a fine day. And if a gale of wind is blowing, the 
strange musical hum emitted by Stonehenge can 
never be forgotten. To say that on moonlight 
nights it is at its finest is a commonplace." 

Perhaps he was remembering Sir Walter Scott's 
tribute to a Scottish historical ruin : " If thou 

263 



THOMAS HARDY AT HOME 

would'st view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the 
pale moon-light/ 1 He did not say, but passed for a 
moment to the possible origins of Stonehenge. 

" All one could risk," said he, for himself, " is 
that the building was probably erected after the 
barrow period of interment in these islands, from 
the fact that one or two barrows seem to have inter- 
fered with its construction." The problem of its 
purpose and building could only be narrowed down, 
or settled, by careful excavations, but he added, with 
a true touch of Hardy, the novelist, " I confess to a 
liking for the state of dim conjecture in which we 
stand with regard to its history." 

That is a self-contained story of Thomas Hardy 
and the Stonehenge of " Tess," brought quietly yet 
dramatically into contact and contrast ; but it was 
only an introduction to later intercourse with him, 
another enviable story. There is, however, a link 
between them in an experience I had one Sunday 
forenoon, at Aldeburgh, the old-world, 'longshore, 
unspoilt town on the Suffolk Sea where Edward 
Clodd had his gracious and kindly home. 

Many celebrated friends were his guests, down 
and across the years, at Strafford House, overlooking 
the deep, grey, salt waters into which, by his desire, 
his ashes were cast, after his loveable soul had taken 
flight, Thomas Hardy came there, glad to come ; 

264 



"SWEETNESS AND LIGHT" 

so did George Meredith, and neither of them could 
have written anything more true of their host than 
two lines of John Masefield's : 

" Gentle he is, and quiet , and most wise 


And where he walks there flutter little birds." 




A picture of Strafford House, Edward Clodd's Aldeburgh home of 
" sweetness and light" where many eminent Victorians and Edward- 
ians shared his delightful hospitality. 

That Sunday Edward Clodd and some of his 
guests went walking, but Thomas Hardy wanted 
another look, for I fancy he had visited it before, 
at the fine old Aldeburgh Church, of which the poet 
Crabbe was once the vicar. Amiably he took me 
with him, and we walked round the church, within 

265 



THOMAS HARDY AT HOME 

which service was going on, and he looked at its 
walls and windows with the appreciative eye of an 
architect. He stood silently, for some minutes, 
beneath one open window, listening to the singing, 
and with that simple, spontaneous testimony to the 
natural reverence and spiritual melody in him, I 
now associate a remark he made to a well-known 
English man of letters. 

44 1 should," he said, 4I go to Church every Sunday 
morning if it were not that people would misin- 
terpret my motives." His heart urged him one 
way, his reason compelled him another ; but, beside 
that church window at Aldeburgh he was a simple, 
sincere study of the religion that is within us. 

Presently he turned away, and we wandered 
among the gravestones in the churchyard, and he 
closely examined some of the older ones for the 
names on them. He had in this resurrectionist 
way, I learned, found names for characters in his 
novels, and there were others he had noted and not 
used, because, as a novelist, he was always full of 
material of all kinds. A particular stone, much 
stricken by the weather, had fallen to one side, 
leaving, at the foot, only two letters of a word 
exposed 4< Su." Hardy's eye fell on them, and then 
he fell on his knee and gently scooped away the 
hiding grass and earth, a task in which I helped him. 

266 



W HAT'S IN A NAME 

" Ah," he exclaimed, when we had made the 
necessary clearance, " Su for Susan,'* and he added 
that he had never seen this contraction before. It 
was, apparently, the pet-name of a little girl, and he 
wondered if it had been general in Old Suffolk or 
in a country very dear to him, Old Wessex. 



267 



XIX. OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

The gentle art of after-dinner and public speaking ; 
taking us to " IT.P.," Mr. Augustine Birrell, Mr. 
Bernard Shaw, Mr. G. K. Chesterton, Sir James 
Barrie y Chauncey Depew, " Bob " Ingersoll and 
President Wilson. 




is speaking and there is after-dinner 
speaking, and if you have been a habitant of 
Fleet Street for some time you become 
knowing about both. They differ as much 
from each other as a steam-roller and a delicate 
instrument like the violin, but that generalisation is 
subject to many qualifications. 

Nobody belonging to Fleet Street has been nearer 
a natural mastership of the two gifts than Mr. T. P. 
O'Connor, whom his countless friends will always 
remember as " T.P." Some of them, thinking to 
be Irish, and therefore, perhaps, to please him, said 
44 Tay Pay," but he did not like that address. 

My acquaintance with him goes back to a time 
when frock coats and tall hats were the fashion, not 
the exception, and it was a costume which became 

268 



"T.P." TAKES SNUFF 



his well-rounded yet squarely set figure. He was 
always effective on the public platform, because he 
had that indefinable natural gift which first interests 
an audience and then holds it. It was pleasant to 
see him rise, bow his acknowledgment of a hope- 
ful welcome, after, may be, a series of stodgy speakers, 
and hear his clear, soft voice. He could be hu- 
morous or tragic, insistent or appealing, anecdotal or 
reminiscent, but always human, and therefore he 
" got over." 

Not to know " T.P." was not to know Fleet 
Street, for he was one of its characteristic children. 
He had, when I last saw him, grown old and slow of 
physical movement, though mentally he remained 
splendidly active. He was in bed at his West- 
minster flat, and as it was early forenoon, he had 
just finished reading the morning papers. They 
lay all over his bed, making a newsprint quilt very 
appropriate for so distinguished a journalist, and 
some, curling their pages this way or that, had 
fallen on the floor and so lay, carpeting it. 

" T.P." was a confirmed snuffer, and while he 
talked he would, every now and then, open a little 
box which was on a table beside him and take a 
pinch. Sometimes he did not take all the pinch, 
and what he missed would fall on the bedclothes, so 
much brown powder. " Oh," his kindly, motherly 

269 



OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

housekeeper would say, " I constantly put new 
sheets on Mr. O'Connor's bed and as constantly 
they become grubby " ; a confidence to which he 
would listen with his genial and humorous smile and 
then take another pinch of snuff. 

Were you a snuffer ? No 1 Well, you missed 
something perhaps. It was an old-fashioned vice 
for an old-fashioned man, but not so bad as cock- 
tails. Perhaps, a cigarette ! Not then 1 He 
thought that nowadays everybody smoked cigar- 
ettes, anywhere, even in their bedrooms, all the time. 
He had kept his Irish brogue for all his half-century 
of life in London Town, and it was musical and 
blarneyish. 

It was for me, however, to persuade him to come 
and make a speech at an Omar Khayydm Club dinner. 
He had, by his doctor's orders, almost stopped 
going to dinners, and, said he, to deliver a speech 
meant you did not enjoy the dinner, for you were 
awaiting your " call," like any other well-graced 
actor. Not quite stage-fright, but a nervous tense- 
ness, as of having to do something which you wanted 
to do well and might not. Still, the after-dinner 
speaker who did not feel like that was not likely to 
44 come over " as well as the one who did ; sympathy, 
temperament, atmosphere, whatever the reason 
might be. 

270 



THE AFTER-DINNER SPEAKER 

" T.P." would see about it, for he was courtesy 
unto kindness, and he would write his decision, 
which, when it came, was that he didn't feel equal to 
the invitation. But I had heard him speak often 
before, at social gatherings, and knew how near he 
could reach to the ideal after-dinner speech, if there 
be such a thing. 

Perhaps he would, a quizzical smile in his eye, 
open with the calculated abruptness, " Now, 
having eaten your dinner, or tried to eat it, I suppose 
I must pay for it." Or he would begin with some- 
thing anecdotal as, "I once knew an Englishman 
who was a lad ; no, a lad-o, as we used to say in 
Ireland, meaning a devil of a fellow." Either way 
he mentally leapt the dining-table, and his hearers 
found the rest delightful, for " T.P," was a born 
speaker, public or after-dinner, and he had perfected 
his gift. 

If you had asked him, however, he would prob- 
ably have named his friend, Mr. Augustine 
Birrell, as the best after-dinner speaker of our time. 
He has never been a regular Fleet Street man, 
though he may have written his well-known 
" Obiter Dicta " essays in the Temple near-by 
when he was pursuing law. On the other hand, he 
has never been a stranger to Fleet Street, with its 
Whitefriars Club, named after the old monks of the 

271 



OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

region, or its meetings of the newer Elian Club, 
founded in tribute to Charles Lamb. 

Possibly it was to its hospitable board he came one 
evening with a most amusing account of how he 
had been interviewed on his eightieth birthday. 
He was in bed when the interviewer burst in on 
him, and he hardly knew how the fellow managed it. 
Possibly a servant, prouder of the master's age than 
he was himself, had, out of that kitchen sort of 
vanity, just shown him up. At least there he was, 
and how could anybody, undressed and eighty years 
old, get up and kick him out ? 

So he had to say something, silence being im- 
possible, and his friends who read the interview in 
print afterwards, told him it was interesting and, 
what was doubtful, characteristic. Personally, he 
found difficulty in recognising what he had said from 
the blankets, and certainly there had been words 
which were not printable, but, on the whole, nobody 
came by serious harm. Some people might even 
have liked to be hunted down in this way, seeing in 
it tribute to their significance, but not he, especially 
in bed and starting eighty. 

Before Mr, George Bernard Shaw moved from 
Adelphi Terrace to Whitehall you could see him now 
and then walking through Fleet Street. Here was 
a tall, loose, long-legged figure, wearing heavy 

272 



WRITER AND PROPHET 

boots, a loose, rough overcoat, or a grey waterproof, 
anyhow a soft felt hat and an air of detachment. 
May be he was thinking of the far days when he 




A new glimpse of Mr. Bernard Shaw, more or less as you may see 
him, talking, working or merely smiling ; for, like all men of original 
genius, be has many personalities in one. 

bombarded and invaded Fleet Street from his first 
democratic London fastness in Fitzroy Square, 
beyond the confines of Bloomsbury. He did not, 
as one of his early friends has said, wait until he was 
great, to behave like a great man. 

If the manuscripts by him, which editors then 
left with the printer, or worse, put in the waste- 



OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

paper basket, could be retrieved, what would they 
not be worth to-day, when American millionaires, 
with or without literary tastes, are all " collecting 
Shaw"? Enough to buy a castle in Ireland, in 
Spain, or anywhere else ; aye, and furnish it in 
Shavian style, whatever that might mean. 

Editors can, or think they can, " spot " genius 
in a writer, but for all that optimists say, it fails to 
make good with the public as often as it succeeds. 
It is there, but it is not discovered or recognised by 
the world at large, on which anything unusual has 
really to be imposed. Even editors, the wise elder 
brethren of Fleet Street, cannot know when genius 
will succeed or they would have treasured Mr. 
George Bernard Shaw's early " copy " as tenderly 
as they would guard Bank of England notes. 

There were more careful people about when 
Mr. G. K. Chesterton came to the neighbourhood of 
Fleet Street, where, up from the wilds of Beacons- 
field, you may still occasionally encounter him. He 
had a way of sketching funny pictures on blotting- 
pads, just to divert his leisure hours as a publisher's 
reader, and some of these masterpieces are under- 
stood to exist. They may not suggest that " G.K.C." 
would have been a greater man as an artist than as 
a writer, a Charles Keen, a Phil May or a " Joe " 
Pennell, but we should all like to see them. 

274 



A MODERN JOHNSON 

What a triumphant picture somebody else might 
have drawn of him on a certain winter night before 
the Great War, a heavy milestone by which we 




A picture, from a recent sketch by Mr. 5. J. Wool}, an American 
artist, of Mr. G. K. Chesterton, whose Johnsonian air is familiar 
in Fleet Street. 

have learned to date things. It was the Ludgate 
end of Fleet Street and a portly figure, clad in an 
Inverness cape and wearing a black, wide-brimmed, 
soft felt hat, was reading a book under the light of a 
street lamp. No doubt it was a " find " of the after- 
noon being examined with eagerness by Mr.Chester- 



OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

ton, for the figure silhouetted against the darkness 
was his and could only be his, 

We have had nobody else in our Fleet Street so 
near in circumference and deliverance to Samuel 
Johnson, and a James Boswell may yet come along 
as a page of letters to " G.K.C." His tinkling 
laugh always ripples out to a good speech by any- 
body else, and one by himself affords a double plea- 
sure to a hearer in that he frankly seems to enjoy 
making it. The man who laughs at his own jokes 
is in danger of being a nuisance, but the man who, 
like Mr. Chesterton, laughs with them, is twice a 
benefactor. 

Sir James Barrie, on the contrary, does not appear 
to enjoy either delivering himself or hearing him- 
self. He rises slowly, hesitantly, as if he does not 
know what he is going to say, why he is going to 
say it, or, indeed, why he is there at all. He is not 
long in reaching his full height, for he is short, 
though, in recent years, he has been making up for 
that by greater " girth," as they would say at 
Kirreimuir, from which Barrie first came to Fleet 
Street somewhat before the Eighteen-Nineties. 

He may tell you something about that, leaning 
against a mantelpiece or anything else near that will 
support him in his ordeal of speech-making. Also 
he is armed with " My Lady Nicotine," as a pipe 

276 



A WIZARD OF THE NORTH 

or a cigar, but if she be essential to thought and 
memory, she is apt to disturb their delivery. He 
speaks in a voice which has an irregular cadence in 
it, a rise and fall of the still fondly loyal Scots 
accent, with its rolling " r," and a constant surprise 
in charm of phrase and puckishness of narrative. 
There is also a rhythmic movement of the body, 
the head and the hands especially, which might sug- 
gest a Barrie play being rehearsed by the author for 
the guidance of the actors, and possibly the manner 
may have come that way, as well as from inherent 
nervousness, otherwise temperament. 

A dreamer and a prophet talking to Fleet Street, 
and of Fleet Street, and what does he say as he 
wanders on, so easy, so confidential, at moments 
so " over the hills and far away " ? He goes back to 
Fleet Street as he found it when he came there and 
began, without licence of influence, shooting his 
articles at editors. Of course, he was not a literary 
firm with much capital, and therefore he had to be 
frugal while he watched the fate of his stuff. 

When the postman was about due he would steal 
out from his lodgings to get an early glimpse of 
what he might be bringing. If he had a large, 
squarish or longish letter, it was an article returned, 
and there could only be one Bath bun and one lump 
of sugar for tea. But if it was a small letter, then it 

277 



OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

contained a " proof," which meant acceptance of the 
article and a guinea or two earned, and two Bath 
buns and two lumps of sugar were possible. 

It was, you will gather, the whimsical wizard 
from the North, being whimsical about himself 
and Fleet Street, to which he remains most neigh- 
bourly, since he lives in an outmost turret of 
Adelphi Terrace. " Joe " Pennell once lived 
there, high above the Thames Embankment, and 
many of his drawings testify to the fine view which 
Sir James Barrie has of London. Adelphi Terrace 
being a community by itself, a land uplifted by the 
famous Scottish Adam brothers, Sir James would 
naturally have known " Joe " and his brusque yet 
loveable personality. 

The shades of the Adelphi have also known 
another draughtsman, Thomas Hardy, when he was 
a young architect, and worked in BlomfielcTs 
office there, as a tablet in one of the terraced houses 
will tell you, if you happen on it. The creator of 
" Peter Pan " could guide you to it because he put 
it up, just as he led in the movement which bore 
Thomas Hardy's ashes to a place in Westminster 
Abbey. 

There was a tale that Sir James Barrie and Mr. 
Bernard Shaw used to shout jokes and stories at 
each other from their respective windows, but that 

278 



FAME THB FIDDLER 



was only someone else's little joke, perhaps " Joe " 
Pennell's, Being such near neighbours they could, 
however, dine and sup on each other's good talk 
when they liked, glad, no doubt, to escape the 




Mr. Bernard Shaw tells bow be writes his books, and makes a 
Biblical reference which the curious will instantly look up. 

fierce light that beats upon fame. They have taken 
it with a difference which suggests that fame has 
many ways : Mr. Bernard Shaw challengingly, as 
from his house-top, Sir James shyly, as if he would 
like to run away and couldn't. One personality 
is as a rushing, mighty wind, the other as a gentle 
zephyr, and public interest is caught and held by 
both, because both have salt as well as sincerity. 

279 



OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

These qualities are essential in all good speaking, 
platform or after-dinner, and so avowed two famous 
American authorities, Chauncey Depew and Colonel 
" Bob " Ingersoll, whom I had the chance of meet- 
ing during a visit to America. Depew was long 
the " crack " after-dinner speaker in a country 
which has prided itself on making this an art, while 
Ingersoll, famous as an agnostic, an ugly word that 
has almost disappeared, was equally famous in the 
arena of oratory. Each had, in his delivery, the 
grand manner of an older day, alike when addressing 
a small, chosen company or a great, public audience, 
as each had a courtesy so marked that it was instantly 
almost friendship. 

Picture Depew, with the face of a lawyer, the 
twinkling eye of a humorist, the massive brow of a 
thinker, the mental tidiness of a man of action, 
and listen to his pleasant, modulated American 
voice. After-dinner speaking, in order to be 
successful, should have enough sense and solidity 
to hold the judgment, and enough fun to relieve the 
agony. If a speech was too serious it was inevitably 
a failure, and if too whimsical it was equally a failure. 
Combine the two things happily and you were a 
success, in America certainly, always if the speech 
caught the immediate atmosphere and surroundings 
and reflected them as in a mirror. 

280 



THE AFTER-DINNER SPEAKER 

Any after-dinner deliverance which relied only on 
stories, Depew felt, was bound to be a disappoint- 
ment and disaster. One story would go if it came 
in naturally, and, as it were, hit the company from 
below the table, hardly more than one, unless 
the others were particularly good. Sometimes, 
when he had taken Englishmen to dinners in New 
York, they said, " Your speakers chaff too much." 
Possibly that view-point was explained by the fact 
that English dinners were mostly held for serious 
ends, while American dinners were always, more or 
less, for simple enjoyment. This, and the Ameri- 
can instinct for saying things out, gave an after- 
dinner speaker more rope and more entertaining 
results, but he must be careful never to hang 
himself. 

Pleasantry, or chaff, or ridicule or sarcasm meant 
point and sparkle in an after-dinner deliverance, 
but it had all to be easy and " on the spot," so to 
say. Was the after-dinner speaker born like a 
poet, or was he made by practice ? Both. The gift 
had to be there, but it also had to be developed by 
study and practice, and, added Depew, " I know a 
man who has tried, hours and hours a day, for 
twenty-five years, and he can't speak yet and never 
will." 

Next Colonel " Bob " Ingersoll ! A tall, well- 
281 



OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

knit, rather stout figure, a fine face with a vivid gleam 
in the eyes and a sounding but agreeable voice. 
He had a cigar, now in his lips, now in his hand, 
and the smoke floated above him in little curls and 
billows. Strength of mind and picturesqueness of 
body joined in him, and they also united in his 
deliberate, chosen utterance of the English language, 
" our common, rich inheritance," as he remarked. 

Oratory was the same the world over, and so there 
was no difference between the real English orator 
and the real American orator. " The man who 
thinks on his feet, who has the pose of passion, the 
face that thought illumines, a voice in harmony with 
the ideals expressed, who has logic like a column 
and poetry like a vine, who transfigures the common, 
dresses the ideals of the people in purple and fine 
linen, who has the art of finding the best and 
noblest in his hearers and who, in a thousand ways, 
creates the atmosphere in which the bud grows and 
flourishes and bursts into blossom that man is an 
orator, no matter of what time or what country. 
It was really a picture, this, of Ingersoll himself, 
and through it one could see him on the platform ; 
attitude, gesture, voice, emphasis, all springing 
from an inner tide of thought and feeling. 

He was wary, being lawyer-trained and shy of 
comparisons, when asked about English and 

282 



MASTERS OF ORATORY 

American speakers in relation to each other. More- 
over, he had never heard any of the great English 
orators and his judgment had therefore to rest on 
reading. " I think, " he declared, however, " that 
undoubtedly the finest passage ever uttered in 
Great Britain was by Curran in his defence of 
Rowan. " Alas ! he did not quote it, and, at the 
moment, I omitted to ask him to identify it, and 
there was no after opportunity. Gladstone, he 
went on, seemed to lack logic, while John Bright, 
though a great speaker, appeared to miss imagina- 
tion and the creative faculty. Disraeli spoke for the 
clubs and the House of Commons, and his speeches 
were too artificial to be read, there resembling his 
novels of English political life, 

" We have/' Ingersoll added, taking ground 
more familiar and surer to him, " had several fine 
speakers in America. I think Thomas Corwin 
stands at the top of the natural orators. Sergeant 
Prentiss, the lawyer, was a very great talker. Henry 
Ward Beecher was the greatest orator the pulpit 
has produced. Theodore Parker was a superb 
speaker. Probably, however, Daniel Webster 
occupies the highest place among American 
speakers." 

Additions have come to that American order of 
eloquence since " Bob " Ingersoll suggested it, 

283 



OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

and certainly he is numbered with its members. 
But when such a prophecy was hinted, he only 
smiled and remarked, " Well, I have said things 
because I thought they ought to be said, so much 
personal and definite action for mental and spiritual 
liberty in the world/* 

He would, as a student of the spoken and written 
word, have been greatly interested in the deliver- 
ances of President Wilson, about the time America 
was coming into the Great War. Wilson's com- 
mand of severe yet eloquent English made him 
then the spokesman of Armageddon, not only for 
America but for all the English-speaking peoples, 
and indeed all the democratic allies. 

English folk read his words, illumined by high 
ideals and contagious character, as they were wont 
to attend on the words of Gladstone, and saluted 
this American Elijah, rising above the clouds of 
war. " Here," they said to each other, " are 
messages which may live, in spirit and in letter, like 
Abraham Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg." It 
was, perhaps, President Wilson's greatest hour, and 
it was also a phase in the psychology of the Anglo- 
Saxon race, as it is influenced by the written or 
spoken word. 

Naturally, the English, meaning only the English, 
are a reticent, slow-thinking, long-thinking people, 

284 



CHARACTER AND EXPRESSION 

and the quicker, more imaginative Scots, Irish and 
Welsh, being a minority, are rather lost in this 
national type. It follows the reticence and slow, 
long-thinkingness of the Englishman, that he wants 
a trumpet-spokesman in a great crisis. Two quali- 
ties he demands in that spokesman : character, 
honest and bold, and a gift of expression in noble 
English. He wants not alone light and leading, 
but wants them in language that goes like a sword- 
flash, nothing flowery, nothing braided with mere 
rhetoric, but the grandeur of simplicity, the elo- 
quence of severity. 

Now, England had at the fateful hour when 
America was casting herself into the scales of 
Armageddon no public man to whom she could 
look, like Pitt or Burke, or Gladstone. Asquith 
had the character, and he might have had the 
right masterfulness of English to speak forth that 
character, if the law had not given him a round, 
elaborate style, holding the thunder but not always 
the lightning, John Morley, who had the pub- 
licist's literary gift in full flower, was an old man, 
and he had been silent except for the writing of 
his recollections. 

Arthur Balfour had a European name as a 
statesman and philosopher, but it sprang from sheer 
intellect combined with personal charm, not from 

285 



OLD FAMILIAR FACES 

that warmth of vision which a nation's spokesman 
at high moments must possess. Mr. Lloyd George 
can speak to the " man in the street " better than 
any politician in the world, and he has fine, natural 
gleams of prose poetry. But he lacks the weight of 
character, the mellowed wisdom and the literary 
touch of phrasing which belong to the truly great. 
Thus the English people, following their tradi- 
tion, did not find it in any one individual, until 
President Wilson drove through the fog of war 
with a clarion voice which will be remembered on 
both sides of the Atlantic when, may be, much else 
in his dramatic life-story is forgotten. 



286 



XX. EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

Old masters, like Delane of " The Times " and 
Russel of the " Scotsman " ; foreword to intimate 
portraits of newer masters, Alfred Fletcher, Henry 
Massingham or Robertson Nicoll ; all showing editor- 
ship a very " human document" 



" A KNIGHT there was," wrote our knightly 
f\ English Chaucer, " and that a perfect 

/Y^ ma n, that from the time he first began to 
^ -*^-ride out he loved chivalry, truth, and 
honour, freedom and courtesy/* 

It might be a description of the perfect editor, 
as our young ideas beheld him, somewhere among 
the clouds, on a Mount Olympus of his own. 
Nobody could live up to such editorial knighthood, 
any more than a king could live up to the 
saying that he can do no wrong. But it is not a 
bad thing to contemplate both these perfections, as 
having a certain mystery and majesty. When gods, 
whatever they be, descend into the street, they are 
likely to have their lustre dimmed. 

Even so, great editors of great papers have 
287 



EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

always managed, while sometimes veiling their 
faces, to keep in touch with the human market 
outside. John Delane, quick alike for news and 
views, got wind, at a dinner-party, of one of the most 
historic " scoops " " The Times " has had. Alexan- 
der Russel of the " Scotsman " was, while he lived, 
as familiar in Scottish conversation as Walter Scott 
and as good a fisher of the Tweed. They were 
editors who observed the anonymous sanctity of 
the old-fashioned editorial godhead, but their 
thunders shook the earth and their lightnings 
illuminated it. 

Editorship, like all human things, has been an 
evolution, and to the most recent phases of this, one's 
own observation in Fleet Street has been witness. 
There was a day when everything was done in the 
name of the editor, although his real activities might 
not go beyond the editorial page. Now he is rather 
the head and front of a heirarchy in which many 
heads and hands exercise some kind of executive 
authority. Its pope, at one end, is the proprietor, 
or board of directors ; its acolyte, at the other end, 
the youngest printer's devil, " pulling proofs " 
instead of swinging incense. Daily papers have 
become more newspapers than organs in which 
editors proclaim the time of day, and that is in 
consonance with the modern trend for first-rate 

288 



PEOPLE WE KNEW 

organisation and high efficiency, in place of direct, 
individual editorial prestige. 

We have had a pageant of evolution, and it seems 
clearest in memory when one views it through the 
personalities of notable editors, known familiarly or 
heard about. There was once no slogan in Fleet 
Street more sounding than " Mudford of the 
c Standard.' " He edited on such secluded heights 
that he was hard to approach, and so little known 
humanly, but he was a power in affairs, partly, 
perhaps, because of this Lama-like seclusion. Or 
there was " Robinson of the * Daily News/ " also 
powerful, but easier of access and most friendly at 
the Reform Club, where, nearly every day, he 
lunched with James Payne, the novelist, and other 
cronies, and played chess for an hour afterwards. 

John Morley was a memory at the " Pall Mall," 
and Frederick Greenwood a memory of the " St. 
James's," and both were still active in or about 
politics. " Le Sage of the ' Telegraph ' " was man- 
at-the-wheel for the Lawsons, themselves first-rate 
journalists, with Sir Edwin Arnold and other 
" lions of Peterborough Court " to help him. Thus 
went Fleet Street in those yester-years of many 
individual names : " Buckle of * The Times ' " 
over at Printing House Square, " T.P." cutting 
in from Stonecutter Street, or elsewhere, and W. T. 

289 



EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

Stead firing up his monthly review down near the 
Thames Embankment. 

It was probably at a Whitefriars dinner in Fleet 
Street that " T.P." and " W.T." both happened to 
be present one evening. But nobody ever said 
" W.T." ; just " Stead/ 1 as you might say Musso- 
lini, and that suggests a striking contrast between 
the two. " T.P.," editorially as well as personally, 
was casual and easy, smiling on the world, getting a 
good deal out of it, enjoying it. Stead was grave 
and serious, charged with missions which he 
expressed in daring journalism like " The Maiden 
Tribute," and his fight for a better navy, events of 
his " Pall Mall Gazette " editorship. You could 
fancy " T.P.," with his brogue and his blarney, 
almost liking to tilt at a windmill. Stead would 
have battered it down as if it were another 
French Bastille, sure to shelter injustice and 
suffering. 

One was as keen, and in the end, may be, as pur- 
poseful an editor as the other, but they differed in 
their ways and appearance as much as a Cavalier 
and a Roundhead. Possibly it was simply that 
" T.P." had a sense of humour, and let it rip, and 
that " W.T.," for all his wealth of personality, had 
no sense of humour, or at least took care to hide it. 
Not even editors can make the best of two worlds, 

290 



TIDINGS AMD TALK 

though it has been a charge against some of them 
that they have tried. 

When Fleet Street has a Journalists' Corner in 
St. Bride's, or, even better, in St. Paul's, as West- 
minster Abbey has its Poets' Corner, Stead and 
O'Connor will both be recorded there. They were 
valiant and true men of the pen and, more, they will 
probably rank as the creators of two very popular 
branches of English daily journalism ; personal 
gossip which tells us all about everybody, and the 
interview which sometimes tells us all about nobody. 

Nothing ever springs from nothing, though 
there are people who try that on us, and there is 
abiding truth in the record that Topsy of " Uncle 
Tom's Cabin " just " grow'd." Always, if you 
like, there has been the personal and particular 
paragraph, and for very long, in America anyhow, 
the interview. But Stead turned it to high ends, 
and, doing that, was able to plant it into the then 
conservative garden of English journalism, where 
it has since flourished. Similarly " T.P." and his 
pioneer young men of the " Star " made the text 
of " mainly about people " a human mirror of the 
passing show, a great uplift from chitter-chatter, 
though heaven knows, there is enough of it about. 

Publicist and missioner was Stead in the world of 
affairs, but he also had the real sense of news, and he 
u 291 



EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

could dramatise it. There was thus almost a fitness 
in his death when the " Titanic " went down, and had 
there been, on the Atlantic, the swift chain of wire- 
less there is to-day, he would, no doubt, have sent 
a fine account of the disaster to Fleet Street ; and 
lived to read it. 

As it was, his obituarists could have included 
nobody with a more sympathetic and experienced 
gift than his friend " T.P." He wrote, while he 
and they lived, obituaries of many of his contem- 
poraries for the " D.T.," on which he had his first 
job when he joined the Street of Adventure. Some 
have, perhaps, still to appear, and to them all he 
gave that friendly, intimate, revealing touch which 
was his art in an " obituary." As to himself, 
his writing-table had a little oak panel with the 
words : 

" / refuse to be buried 
Until I am dead" 

Alas I it is easy for an editor to be buried while 
he is still alive, though " T.P." was not. He has 
only to leave his ch^ir, or what is more likely, have 
it fall from him, and unless he is a personality, apart 
from it, the noise of the world is apt to drown him. 
No divorce could be more sad, more complete, but 

292 




The New Fleet Street, in whose modern architecture, soaring and 
massive, we may hope to read the real spirit of the New Journalism 
as light in the heavens and a continuing city on earth. 



293 



EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

then mutability is the pendant of every " crowded 
hour of glorious life," if editorship can ever be that. 

It is something to have lived and worked in the 
sunshine and shadow of men who gave it not only 
brains and hearts but that uncounting sacrifice 
without which either is imperfect. My thoughts 
there are with my first London editor, Alfred Ewen 
Fletcher, of the old, splendid " Daily Chronicle, " 
and with Henry W, Massingham, who succeeded 
him, after being Parliamentary sketch writer for the 
paper, and its Literary Editor, offices in which his 
rarely varied gifts had opportunity and freedom, 

We talk privately to each other, friend to friend, 
about friends, of those who are still with us in 
Fleet Street, but to the dead we pay tribute because 
they are above praise or hurt ; and neither hurt nor 
praise could have spoiled Fletcher. He would turn 
half round in his big elbow-chair, take off and rub 
his spectacles, square them again upon his nose, run 
his hand over his brow and glance tenderly into a 
pipe so democratic as hardly to out-swagger an Irish 
dudeen. He had the kindliest smile you could 
fancy, the softest, cheeriest of voices, eyes with 
dreams and humour in them, and, clad in whitening 
hair, still pretty thick, a broad, long, handsome head. 

" A.E.F.," as he usually signed his cheery notes, 
had been born in Lincolnshire, on the borders of the 

294 



THE COMMON TASK 

Wash, a country which is sometimes spoken of as a 
swamp but which those who know it call a garden. 
Didn't Charles Kingsley say there was an air of 
boundless freedom about the East Anglian Fens ? 
He might have added that there is an independence 
of character among their people, perhaps, in part, 
attributable to the fact that there are no great 
resident landlords. 

Anyhow, that was Fletcher's idea, and he ex- 
pressed it simply and naturally in his own person- 
ality. Possibly this was the human touch which 
enabled him to grasp that, even in the 'Nineties, 
high politics were not the whole concern of the 
people. Every seven years or so a fresh genera- 
tion of readers, with new ideas and aspirations, came 
from the elementary schools. An earnest interest 
in current literature must follow, unless popular 
education had been a failure and the big stream of 
new books from Paternoster Row meant nothing. 

There were social and industrial questions, 
religious movements, trade organisations, a score 
of subjects of the primest interest because they 
intimately affected the lives of everybody. Human- 
ness, whatever involved the well-being of the 
people that was personal catechism, his editorial 
platform ; and there, beyond question, he was a 
journalistic pioneer. " If," he would say in 

295 



EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

newspaper language, " you capture the thinkers and 
the workers, you can leave the idle and the frivolous 
classes to be prayed for by their friends." 

Alfred Fletcher's outlook in journalism was a 
natural consequence of his attitude to mankind, and 
thus it was also natural that he should be the father 
of the famous " Daily Chronicle " Literary Page, 
for, also beyond question, he was. It was his idea, 
and he started and tended it and saw it develop 
into a recognised organ of culture and power in our 
English book-land. Always new books have had 
some presence in daily newspapers, but Fletcher 
gave them pride of presence, saying, " Why should 
they not be brought within the knowledge of the 
man in the street ? He wants to know, he should 
be given easy access to current literature, and I'll 
do my best to provide that London book window." 
At first there was a page of reviews once a week, 
and a little later came the bold stroke of three col- 
umns every morning about " Books of the Day," 
with gathered news-gossip of others still unborn. 
The rest of Fleet Street, still rather clinging to 
tradition, was doubtful of this literary experiment, 
but when it passed into an accepted institution, 
the evident thing was to imitate it without, of 
course, so much as a compliment of flattery. 

The achievement was all the more difficult and 
296 



COURAGE AND PRAISE 

all the greater because the " D.C.," being Radical 
in politics, was supposed to be at the other end of the 
book-buying classes. Actually, its definite and 
daily literary feature attracted many readers holding 
other politics, and so, as time went on, its position 
and reputation as a national journal rose enormously. 
Even Queen Victoria, when it printed a forthright 
leader about the Baccarat Case, had a message sent 
to the editor, not of criticism, but saying in so many 
words, " Thank you for your common sense and 
courage." At least that was the story, though it 
may have been confused with a letter in a like sense, 
which another London editor got from the Queen's 
Private Secretary. If it was true, Fletcher could 
well have boasted of the compliment, but he never 
did, nor did the writer of the bold leader, William 
Clarke, a brilliant fellow, now also long dead. 

If the " D.C." Literary Page was founded by one 
man, it was mostly developed by another, Henry 
Massingham, whose early work in it included a 
masterly review of Thomas Hardy's " Tess." 
There is a tale of " H.W.M.," tumbling into grimy 
Whitefriars Street with the novel, in the old-fashioned 
three volumes, under his arm and his critique in his 
pocket. He threw the book and the manuscript 
on the table, hung his hat on a peg and exclaimed, 
" Well, if this isn't a great novel, I'm damned." 

297 



EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

He signified the same next morning in a couple of 
columns, for that was the spacious age when a re- 
viewer could not only give his verdict, but his reasons 
for that verdict. Both verdict and reasons were 
especially agreeable to Thomas Hardy at a time 
when narrow-minded people wanted his novelist's 
scalp, and that was a satisfaction to the reviewer, as 
a bit of good work always is to anybody. Another 
satisfaction would be to possess that review copy 
of " Tess," for, as a first edition, it would be worth 
much money to-day, but it probably just lay about 
the office until it was cleared out with the waste 
paper, such being the way of Fleet Street. 

It was an education and an inspiration for a quite 
young man to work in close association with 
Massingham as Literary Editor and Editor. He 
saw books and book news, and literature generally, 
as a natural, essential part of life and progress, and so 
he interpreted them in journalism. His cultured 
and sensitive mind was sharpened by a swift and sure 
flair for that immediacy of tragedy or comedy which 
hits and holds the public. He had ranging, sympa- 
thetic, adaptive knowledge, and it was lit by spiritual 
feeling and given wings by imagination. 

These are the inner qualities of a great editor, as 
indeed he was, and it was only his highly strung 
nature that sometimes made him a little over-positive 

298 



STYLE AND THE MAN 

or a little ungenerous in a public quarrel. He was 
no hammer-and-tongs man, his nature being too 
fine for that rough stuff, but a most dexterous 
swordsman with his pen. He wrote, or dictated, 
with a rapidity and an ease which suggested a wealth 
of resources not called on, and whether he wrote or 
dictated he had a winning charm of style. Noting 
that, one salutes his personality as a whole, for the 
manner of a man's writing is a reflection of the man 
himself, mentally, spiritually and almost physically. 

What was Henry Massingham like to the eye ? 
A tall, slim figure ; the legs loosely hung, the body 
swaying gently down to them ; a longish, nervous 
face with a tawny moustache, deep blue eyes, glint- 
ing like a lake in sunshine, and yet, like it, capable, 
at another time, of a storm ; a broad, high brow 
from which the fair hair went back, as the north- 
country expression is, in a " cow's lick." That, 
plus eye-glasses or spectacles, which he constantly 
wore, was Massingham, and the moment he entered 
a room the atmosphere of it was different. 

He brought that something of influence which 
undoubted personality communicates, whether to 
the comforting, stimulating or stirring up of other 
people. More, and more difficult, he impressed 
his personality on every issue of his paper, not 
merely in the editorial page but in the presentation 

299 



EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

of its news. He saw the news of next morning as 
a reader would expect to have it presented, and if he 
sent you out to write a special article it was printed 
instantly. This was the logic of his own flair and a 
" Good morning " to you, for there is no better thrill a 
young journalist can have than finishing a " story " 
at midnight, and reading it in bed with his awakening 
cup of tea. It makes him feel that somehow he 
has had a hand in yesterday, and it sends him forth 
with zest to encounter the new day. 

Zest never failed Massingham, for though he 
had no undue physical strength, he had that spark 
of vitality which achieves and endures. Picture 
him coming to his editorial office about five o'clock, 
seeing visitors and the paper planned for next day, 
then going home to dinner and returning about 
nine o'clock, by which time Fleet Street, in his time, 
had only begun to hum. Perhaps there was a 
political crisis involving the question, should 
Rosebery or Harcourt be leader of the Liberal Party 
and as a consequence Premier ? Massingham was 
full of the latest talk and ideas about it all and 
dictated them into news, and he was full of editorial 
conviction and poured it into a leader. 

Or was it a question of securing some special 
feature Arctic articles by Dr. Nansen, or the full 
text of a proposed Anglo-American arbitration 

300 



EDITOR AND BOOKMAN 

treaty. He had that cabled from Washington, 
when the cable was not so freely used by Fleet 
Street as it is to-day, and thereby he left one of 
many marks on its sands of time. Another mark he 
left was his independence as an editor, for once he 
ran his paper strenuously, and over months, in frank 
opposition to the views of his chief proprietor, and 
still they remained good friends. Dearer still, to 
some of us, is the memory of his friendship, indul- 
gent yet exacting, as was right in a man of feeling 
and a complete editor, 

" Close-ups " of editors, as the lingo of the cinema 
would have it ; and the gallery of them can be 
extended, though not, perhaps, with the same work- 
ing intimacy. Nobody could have had that with Sir 
William Robertson Nicoll, because he did most of 
his editing on the heights of Hampstead and only 
dipped down into Fleet Street once a week. This 
was when he put the " British Weekly " " to bed," 
as the expression is about seeing a paper to press. 
A good deal has sometimes to be done at the last 
moment, and the old-fashioned editor, without any 
deputy, took care to be on the spot. Afterwards 
Robertson Nicoll would dine at the Devonshire 
Club with a circle of friends which would be sure to 
include Clement Shorter. 

They had a long friendship, and once rather a 
301 



EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

long quarrel, which they bore with mutual courage 
and resignation and ultimately made up. It had 
to do with some literary question, and there 
" W.R.N." was a far better authority than " C.K.S.," 
being, indeed, in every sense, a great bookman. 
Shorter was not less ardent in the cause of letters, and 
humanly he was kind but not always tactful about it. 
He had a gift for doing a friendly act in positively 
the wrong way, and then of being surprised and, 
in turn, nettled at the outcome. 

Robertson Nicoll, on the other hand, judged 
merely by his presence and talk, might have been 
living up to the Scots proverb, " Ca* canny ! " 
Actually, he had lots of leadership and go, and that 
was the greater a glory because, in his young man- 
hood, he had almost been condemned by the doctors 
to die of consumption. They bade him nurse his 
lungs as he would his life, and for answer he came to 
London and entered upon one of the most successful 
journalistic careers of recent times. 

Not only did he found an influential weekly 
paper, but he did much to build up a powerful 
publishing house, and he was always getting clever 
people to write, making them write, or writing 
himself. " His mind," said a popular Fleet Street 
baron about him, " was the ablest all-round mind I 
have known." It was remarkable not only for its 

302 



THINGS OF LONG AGO 

natural force, but for its range of scholarship and its 
grip of this world and other world questions. 

Like Gladstone, Robertson Nicoll was a " High- 
lander in the custody of a Lowlander," for he was a 
blend of the two races of Scotland, and a brilliant 
instance. The Celtic element in him meant imagina- 
tion and intuition and the Lowland element char- 
acter and decision. The " native Doric " of Aber- 
deenshire lingered stoutly in his accent, and he 
spoke slowly, quietly, thought and word keeping 
pace with a moving finger, no doubt an action 
acquired in the pulpit. Old associations were 
tender to him, and when we met there was always, 
in our talk, a wisp of the mist on Morven, a far- 
seen hill which divides Deeside and Donside in the 
Aberdeenshire Highlands. 

His father, Free Kirk minister of Lumsden, 
travelled up Strathdon every other Sunday, to hold 
service in what was known as the " tin kirkie " 
because it was built of corrugated iron. It was, so 
to speak, an outpost of his main charge, miles down 
below, and my grandfather and grandmother used 
to attend the service and take me toddling with 
them. How very long ago it is, and yet it seems like 
yesterday, for childhood abides in us all, and that 
is well. 

But certainly it was an intimate and particular 

303 



EDITORS AS HUMAN BEINGS 

link with Robertson Nicoll, who honoured it out 
of his own Scots brotherliness or " clannishness,* ' 
whichever way you will have it. He was eminently 
Scots in his resilient spirit, in his resonant mind and 
in his physique, where he had the small bones of the 
Celt ; and there has been no Scotsman in Fleet 
Street who wielded more individual influence there, 
and in the country. 



304 




XXL TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW 

The New Fleet Street of a new age, faint \ perhaps^ 
but pursuing ; a stray light on where Barrie heard the 
wind that called Mary Rose to her Island ; and other 
revealing* and gleanings of our Pilgrim Way. 

NE wonders what Samuel Johnson and 
|James Boswell would think of the New 
'Fleet Street if they could return from 
wherever they may be and take a walk 
down it. They might have recognised its Victorian 
salute and even its Edwardian greeting, but to-day 
it has another face and another atmosphere. 

What ghosts they would be to meet in the 
glimpses of the moon and take around, first to the 
old house in Gough Square which they knew so well. 
They would still know it, for, thanks to pious 
thought and care, it remains itself in a precinct of 
changes and the members of the Johnson Club 
might even be dining upstairs. " Sirs," he would 
say, climbing to them, " it is, indeed, an honour you 
pay me, and I thank you mightily." 

How the New Fleet Street, keen for the " human 

305 



TO-DAY ANP TO-MORROW 

story," especially when it is veiled in mystery and 
needs unveiling, would leap to a return like that. 
Its young men are eager to discover and to tell, 
though there is no door to death, and thus they 
carry on, in their own way, the spirit of adventure 
which, like a King's writ, and often perhaps to the 
same end, has always run in the half-mile between 
Temple Bar and Ludgate. 

Yonder, on the outer wall of St. Dunstan's 
Church, is a bust of" Northcliffe," whose insurgent 
and resurgent personality shook the walls of the Old 
Fleet Street. Glance at it, as you come east from the 
Strand, and you see a strong profile with a boyish 
twinkle in it, betokening a natural sense of fun and a 
gift for friendship. Take it as you go westward 
and it has the air of a Mussolini, not quite sure of 
himself, of a Cromwell, without the warts, or of a 
Napoleon Bonaparte, with the lock of hair falling 
differently on the brow. 

Surely the tears and laughter of Fleet Street, and 
so of a wider life, are in that bronze face ; hope and a 
smile, comeliness and charm, on the side where the 
sun goes down ; ambition and power, success and 
distress, on the side where the sun rises. It is the 
wrong alignment, because the dawn should be 
simple faith and the twilight contented rest, whether 
or not with Norman blood. But the eternal, 

306 



NAPOLEONIC BUT SIMPLE 

impish will-o'-the-wisp which haunts Fleet Street, 
will have its little ironies with those who come that 
way, even if they leave footprints in its history. 




Nobody did more to create the New Fleet Street, in a journalistic 
sense, than Alfred Harmswortb, first and last Viscount Nortbclife, 
and now this bust of him looks out on it from the gable of St. Dunstan's 
Church. 

Once only I came into personal contact with Sir 

Alfred Harmsworth, as he then was, and this was 

when, about the high summer-time of his career, 

he lived in Berkeley Square, A few doors away 

x 30? 



TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW 

dwelt the Premier Lord Rosebery, and people said 
they were on saluting terms, as neighbours should 
be, but not on greatly speaking terms. Perhaps 
they both thought it was better not to let the 
accident of adjacence break into the gladiatorial rules 
of public affairs. But in their separate, lordly 
houses, they made a piquant contrast as statesman 
and journalist. 

My mission to Sir Alfred Harmsworth was at the 
instance and command of others and had to do with 
a certain deadlock in Fleet Street. He was easy 
and pleasant, striking in face and head, and graceful 
in body and carriage, and, as I knew, a fisherman. 
He had been away in Hampshire all day hunting a 
trout with a dry-fly, and he had not caught it. This 
was a language I had learned young, with a wet-fly 
on Scottish streams, and so a point for natural talk, 
leading on to the purpose of my call. 

What I had to tell him was what he wanted to 
happen a little later, and meanwhile we somehow 
got on to that famous pro-consul, Sir George Grey. 
A book of his memoirs, set down by myself, was 
coming out and, said Sir Alfred Harmsworth in a 
quiet, decisive voice, " Grey was a very great 
Englishman and he has never been properly re- 
cognised by his country. Cecil Rhodes, who 
should know an empire-builder, has often spoken 

308 



A CONSTANT CAMPAIGN 

about him to me. Send me this book on Grey and 
I'll have it reviewed at once." He was as good as 
his word, and whenever I pass him, uncomfortable 
on his plinth at St. Dunstan's, I say, " Peace be 
with you ! " 

But there is no peace in journalism, which is a 
constant campaign in human drama and for that 
reason capturing and holding. " Once bitten, 
twice shy," says the proverb, but here the moral 
is exactly the other way about. Once bitten by 
Fleet Street, you are lost to it for ever, but well lost. 
You may not make history, though you might, but 
as a near onlooker, you see all the game, you are a 
chronicler of it, and that is more amusing. Even as a 
private person, you often make discoveries on which 
other people would never light, because a curiosity for 
knowledge in a born newspaper man becomes a 
sure instinct, like the spiritual side of sex in a 
woman. 

Now, there was that attack of influenza, with a 
high temperature, and being bundled into a nursing- 
home on the fringe of Hyde Park. Next morning 
you said to the nurse, " An odd wind, wasn't it, half 
the night ? It seemed to come with a cry over the 
house-tops between here and Piccadilly, and then to 
fall, with a sob and a moan, into the flatness of Hyde 
Park." That was exactly one's odd feeling about it ; 

309 



TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW 

and, " Yes," answered the nurse, " a strong wind, 
blowing here from the east, sometimes has that 
eerieness. It is probably explained by its sudden 
lift over high, obstructive buildings and then its 
plump down into Hyde Park/ 1 

Knowledgeable, if arguable, though not by a sick 
man, and, continued she, " Sir James Barrie heard 
what you have heard, when he was a patient once in 
this very room. That, we think, was how he got 
the notion for the soughing wind from the island, in 
his play, * Mary Rose.' " Another great " story," 
you observe, which the New Fleet Street, with all 
its skinned mental eyes, has, so far, missed. But 
it can afford to do that because it has so many 
44 stories," usually, if you please, very well written. 

There is more honest, human writing in the 
London morning papers than there has ever been, 
and it would rejoice the heart of Daniel Defoe, who 
set the tune long ago. He is the ultimate father of 
the writing style in Fleet Street at this modern age 
of realism, yet grace ; so let it be humble, because 
original it is not, and pay him a grateful recognition. 
His journal of the London Plague, and, as a tale of 
adventure, his " Robinson Crusoe," might very 
well be text-books in the art of writing for the 
papers to-day. Hasn't anyone 4I lifted " some- 
thing by him, adapted it to an event of the hour, and 

310 



DIRECTNESS AND SALAESE 

got away with it ? For young departmental editors, in 
a hurry to discover talent, do sometimes get taken in. 

The decorative literary style is out of fashion, 
though, coming from the ripe mind and the deft 
hand, it can still charm and hold. Simple direct- 
ness is the note, and this is what is wanted by the 
general reader, young or old enough to have been 
educated in the first burst of the Board Schools. 
Lots of facts, plainly stated and grouped with drama, 
and, may be, a dash of sentiment no more I 
That's the journalistic cocktail of the " best-sellers," 
and it gets over, whatever the cumulative effect may 
be on the mental nerves of the community. 

It is a style in sharp contrast to that, say, of George 
Augustus Sala, when he was describing the scene 
at Evans's Supper Rooms, an old London haunt of 
his. " See," he wrote, " the pyramids of dishes 
arrive ; the steaming succession of red-hot chops 
with their brown, frizzling, caudal appendages, 
sobbing hot tears of passionate fat. See the serene 
kidneys, unsubdued though grilled, smiling though 
cooked, weltering proudly in their noble gravy, like 
warriors who have fallen upon the field of honour." 
Splendid Salaese, but not the pen as it is wagged 
by the young paladins of the New Fleet Street. 

What mirth, but also consternation, there would 
be among up-to-date sub-editors if they had to 

3*1 



TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW 

make a " news story " of Sala's " russet leather- 
coated " baked potatoes, his poached eggs, " glisten- 
ing like suns in a firmament of willow-plate," and 
his general " farinaceous effervescence." Sub- 
editors have become strangely exalted in the news- 
paper hierarchy, for, while formerly they just put 
reports in order, or cut them to the available space, 
they now re-write, " spatch-cock " things in, and 
generally make a new job of the subject on hand. 

This mass work may make a paper more roundly 
informing, which is not always necessary, and more 
readable, always a virtue, but it has a withering 
effect on personality in writing. A poor devil of a 
reporter toils all day for his " story," writes it with 
his mind's blood, and when he sees it in print he 
hardly knows it. Was there not a witty London 
scribe who, in a moment of anger, apostrophised the 
up-to-date sub-editor in Lewis Carroll's lines : 

" For first you write a sentence. 
And then you chop it small ; 

Then mix the bits, and sort them out 
Just as they chance to fall ; 

The order of the phrases makes 
No difference at all" 

But inexorable youth, determined to attain 
literature in journalism, can always hope to reach 

312 



WHAT WAS AND IS 



the signed-article stage. Then it will not have to 
fight a way through the House of Commons of 
Fleet Street, for the sub-editors are really that. It 
will go upstairs with its " copy " to the serener 
atmosphere of the editors, who are the House of 
Lords, though they are not Peers of the Realm, like 
some of their proprietors. 

Possibly it is at this period of transition that a 
journalist of the New Fleet Street has second 
thoughts as to whether a good deal might not be 
said for the older journalism, with its blanket 
spaciousness of straight news and its full, deliberate 
leaders, like the broadsides of Nelson's "Victory," 
The leader has lost, to this swift, hustling age, its 
ancient pride of place and its stately dignity and the 
real impact of a paper on public opinion is now its 
news and its special articles, as well as its editorials. 
But the still, small voice, of what should be human 
communion and work-a-day counsel, will always 
hall-mark a paper's personality, as a beautiful speak- 
ing voice charms us. For, as Sir William Watson 
wrote after reading " Tamburlaine the Great " : 

" Tour Marlowe's page I close, my Shakespeare's ope ; 
How welcome, after gong and cymbaFs din, 
The continuity, the long, slow slope 
And vast curves of the gradual violin ! " 
313 



TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW 

One legacy, among many, from the Old Fleet 
Street to the New Fleet Street, is never to be afraid 
to quote poetry, if it will express what you want to 
say better than you could say it yourself, Even 
our young poets hesitate to quote the old ones, may 
be because, for personal reasons, they think it 
unnecessary. But the prose of books, as they pour 
out from the publishers, invades and pervades the 
newspaper. The new book, with news in it, served 
up in summaries and extracts, is all the go, though 
the critical review continues its ancient, necessary 
mission. It says everything for the writing in the 
modern daily paper that the best stuff from the best 
books blends imperceptibly with it. That, like- 
wise, is a testimony to the ordinary reader, who has 
a surprising gift for knowing what is good, though 
he cannot always give you his reasons. 

Anyhow, it is well that the " news stories " in 
current books should be getting full attention, and 
that suggests what a lee-way there is to make up. 
Think of the tales reposing in the literary treasures 
of the John Murray house in Albemarle Street, 
where Byron and Scott first met, and where they 
came downstairs arm in arm, being both cripple 
men and having dined well. One does not forget 
the thrill, though it was many years ago, of being 
introduced to these relics and guided among them 



BYRONIC DASH 

by the late Sir John Murray, whose good friendship 
and fine personality are a gracious memory. 

Gems of Byronia, all bursting with real " copy " 
for the on-coming generation, which has still to 
discover old things and find them joyfully new. 
Byron's Bible, his snuff-box, with a lock of his brown 
hair in it, a draught-screen made for him by Gentle- 
man Jackson, his trainer ! Priceless manuscripts, 
throwing lights of their own for Byronic young 
people, and one of them, recalling a controversy of 
the Eighteen-Seventies, when Browning criticised 
the poet's grammar. Particularly he cited a line 
in " Childe Harold," " And dashest him again to 
earth there let him lay." 

Gladstone joined in the controversy and pointed 
out that " lay " is used in a like manner in the 
" Sentimental Journey." Characteristically, he 
mentioned this as a " twin error not an excuse," and 
of Byron he gave what Sir John Murray thought an 
admirable summing-up. " Byron seems to me," 
wrote the " G.O.M." in a letter, also at Albemarle 
Street, "to have used the language always as a 
master, sometimes as a tyrant." It is not a bad 
motto for the writer in Fleet Street, because, when 
he becomes a master of English, we can afford to 
let him be its occasional tyrant. 

The journalistic life, with its going backward for 

315 



TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW 

the things worth keeping alive, and its going 
forward to the things worth doing, begets a unique 
experience of human nature, a quick understanding 
of it and a tolerant, Christian Spirit. No human 
fellowship is more loyal and kindly towards its 
various members and that warm thread knits rank 
and file. It is a democracy of good hearts, as well 
as of good heads, whatever hazards one may en- 
counter by the way, and this daily thought sweetens 
the daily round, nourishes the joy of living. 

Other times, other newspapers, other owners, 
and ours is an era of things on a big scale and so of 
big organisations. But the anchor of high tradition 
holds, qualified by the new conditions, and as one 
family retires with its generations of high-minded 
journalism accomplished, another family takes up 
the Fleet Street burden. 

We need to use large maps when we view any 
phase of life or labour in the perspective of past, 
present and future, and journalism at its best is 
both a life's labour and a labour of love. It shows 
all our tracks and harmonises them into the picture 
which each of us works out for himself, uncon- 
sciously and therefore truthfully. Here enough of 
one traveller's pilgrimage has been told, not for 
itself, because that is nothing, but for what he has 
seen through a Window in Fleet Street. 

316 



PEOPLE IN THE BOOK 



ty Prince, 193, 194 
Alexander, William^ 20 
Asquith, H. H., 285 
Austin, L. F., 13 

Baldwin, Stanley, 137 

Balfour , Ea r I of, 138,285 

Barclay, Florence, 123 

Barnum, P. T., 67 

Barrie, Sir James, 276, 310 

Baxter, Charles, 23 

Beacons fie Id, Earl of, 33, 157, 

160, 172 

Benson, A. C., 203 
Besant, Annie, 63 
Binney, Rev. Dr., 209 
Birr ell, Augustine, 271 
Blackie, J. S. 9 24 
Blavatsky, Madame, 63 
00*, General William, 84-94 
00*6, Catherine, 87, 93 
Boswell, James, I, 18, 24 
ng&*, 70An, 156, 165, 169, 171 
Brougham, Lord, 159 
Brown, John, 194 
Browning, Robert, 83, 225 
Bryce, James Viscount, 177 
Burleigh, Bennet, 3 
Bums, John, 8, 178 
Burns, Robert, 31 



Cakebread, Jane, 80 
Canning, Lord, 159 
Cantlie, Sir James, 232 
Carlyle, Thomas, 21 
Chalmers, Rev. Dr., 209 
Chamberlain, Joseph, 25, 128 
Chapman, Frederic, 183 
Chatto, Andrew, 116 
Chesterton, G. #., 274 
Churchill, Lord Randolph, 168, 

216 

Churchill, Winston, 216, 217 
CW<*, <&0<2r J, 264 
Cobden, Richard, 156 
Coleridge, 5. f., 207 
Callings, Jesse, 129 
C00, Dr., 220 
Corelli, Marie, 62 

Defoe, Daniel, 310 
/)*/<**, JoAw, 288 
Defew, Chauncey, 280 
Dickens, Charles, 181, 207 
Donnelly, I., 22 

Edward VII, King, 197, 237-52 
r, Viscount, 204 



Fawcett, Professor, 169 
Findlater, Piper, 221 
Fitzgerald, Percy, 182 



317 



PEOPLE IN THE BOOK 



Fletcher, A. ., 294 
Forbes, Archibald, 3 
Fox, Charles James, 147 
Frederick, the Empress, 194 

Gandhi, Mahatma, 66 
Garvin,J.L., 13 
George V, King, 198, 250 
Gibbs, Sir Philip, 220 
Gladstone, W. ., 102, 141-54, 

157, 164, 229, 242, 315 
Gladstone, Catherine, 143, 154 
Goldsmith, Oliver, II 
Graham, Cunninghame, 13 
Greenwood, Frederick, 36 
Grey, Sir George, 192, 308 
Guthrie, Rev. Dr., 209 

Hannen, Sir James, 40 
Harcourt, Sir William, 136 
Hardy, Thomas, 117, 253-66, 

278, 297 
Harte, Bret, 175 
Hay, John, 117 
Holker, Sir John, 170 
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 173 
Holmes, Thomas, 81 

, 210 
*, Joseph, 158 

JiK Holman, 211 
Huxley, Professor, 66 



inter," 98 
Johnson, Lionel, 74 
Johnson, Samuel, I, 18, 24, 276 



77 

Ingersoll 9 Robert, 282 
Irving, Rev. Dr., 209 

" Jack the Ripper," 6 
James, Henry, 112 



20, 71 
Kropotkine, Prince, 68 

Labouchere, Henry, 101 
dw3, Charles, 76 
Lawson, Sir Wilfrid, 170 
Z**, &> Sidney, 244 
Zi #w Chang, 227 
Lincoln, Abraham, 118 
Z/oy</ G*?rg<?, Z)., 155, 286 
Lockwood, Sir Frank, 41 
Z<? ^g Zw, 5;>, 230 
Lynd 9 Jt*ny 9 2is 
Lytton, E. Buhuer, 215 

Macartney, Sir Halliday, 235 
MacDonald, Ramsay, 138 
Macdonald, Sir Hector, 223 
Mackay, Charles, 215 
Magee, Archbishop, 210 
Manning, Cardinal, 53, 210 
Masefield, John, 265 
Massingham, H. W., 221, 294, 

297 

Mas son, David, 21 
Af <ry, P&7, 78 
Maybrick, Florence, 26 
Melbourne, Lord, 1 59 
Meredith, George, 35 
Morgan, Sir George Osborne, 167 
M or ley, John Discount, 131, 

152, 285 

Morris, William, 177 
Moscheles, Felix, 83 



318 



PEOPLE IN THE BOOK. 



Mowbray, Sir John, 160 
Murray, Sir John, 315 

Nansen, Fridtfof, 106, 225 
Nevinson, H. W., 13, 76 
Newbery, John, 12 
Newman, Cardinal, 151 
Niall, Dr. E. M., 74 
Nicholas, Tsar, and Tsaritsa, 197 
Nicoll, Sir W. Robertson, 301-4 
Norfolk, Duke of, 252 
Norman, Sir Henry, 234 
Nortbcliffe, discount, 306 

O'Connell, Daniel, 160 
O'Connor, T. P., 155, 268, 290 
O'Connor, Feargus, 170 
Olcott, Colonel, 63 
Oliphant, Laurence, 212 
O'Sbea, Captain, 46, 48 
O'Sbea, Katharine, 46, 53 

Palmerston, Lord, 159 
Parker, Dr. Joseph, 49 
Parker, Theodore, 76 
Parnell, Charles Stewart, 46, 50, 

168 

Peel, Sir Robert, 34, 159, 170 
Pennell, Joseph, 278 
Pitt, William, 169 
Prior, Melton, 3 
Putnam, George Haven, 121 

Rhodes, Cecil, 104 

Roberts, Earl, 224 

JR0*r/, " Hang-Theology," 206 

Rosebery, Earl of, 102, 132, 241 

Rossetti, Christina, 76 



Rougemont, Louis de, 221 
Rototon, Lord, 33 
Rudolph, Archduke, 25 
fur;/, Alexander, 288 
Russell, Sir Charles, 26, 39 
Russell, Henry, 214 

n, 158 



, George Augustus, I, 311 
Salisbury, Marquis of, 234 
Srott, Captain, 107 
&*#, &> Walter, 20, 288 
Shackleton, Sir Ernest, 224 
S&w, George Bernard, 272, 278 
Staw; Lefevre, Speaker, 1 66 
Shorter, C. K., 301 
Shotton, Boy Captain, 68 
Smalley,G.W.,ii2 
Smith, George, 243 
Spurgeon, Rev. C. H., 210-11 
Spurgeon, Rev. John, 210 
Stanley, Dean, 210 
S^tf^, JF. J., 290 
Stephen, Sir J. F., 26 
Stephen, Sir Leslie, 244 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 23, 95, 

99 

Stoughton, Dr. John, 208 

Strachey, Lytton, 249 
$te*r*, Mary, 20, 71 
5 2^0* ui, 230-6 
Swinburne, Algernon C., 1 10 

J<z/*, President, 125 
Taglioni, Madame, 215 
T<*, Archbishop, 210 
Thackeray, W. M., 215 
Twain, Mark, 114 



319 



PEOPLE IN THE BOOK 



7aughan, Cardinal, 213 
Vetsera, Baroness Marie, 25 
Victoria, Queen, 28, 102, 189- 

205, 222 
Villiers, Charles Pelkam, 155* 

205 
riUiers, Frederic, 3 

Wales, Prince of, 240 
Watson, Sir William, 313 



Watts-Dunton, Theodore, 133 
Wellington, Duke of, i$* 
Wilde, Oscar, 73 
Williams, Charles, 4 
Willock, A. Dewar, 200 
Wilson, A. 7., 35 
JP*7*w, President, 284 
White, Henry, 124 
Wolfe, Humbert, 3* 
Wordsworth, William, 147 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 



The Gordon Highlanders 
The Romance of a Pro-Consul 
The Epistles of Atkins 
My Summer in London 
John, Jonathan and Company 
News from Somewhere 
The Slack Colonel (A Novel) 
A New Tale of Two Cities 
A London Book Window 
Pages in Waiting 

The Love Letters of a Husband (Anonymously) 

Cassell 

Travels in Hope Hodder W Stoughton 

The Road to Kashmir Hodder W Stoughton 



John Macqueen 

Chatto y Windus 

Fisher Unwin 

Werner Laurie 

Chapman W Hall 

Chapman & Hatt 

John Lane 

John Lane 

John Lane 

John Lane 



PrinUd in Gf** Briton 

, Ltd., 



, 
London *** AyMW*